Convicted music producer wins right to seek lower sentence for fraud

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[December 20, 2016]    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former music producer who once worked with the likes of Whitney Houston and Kenny G, won the right on Monday from a U.S. appeals court to ask for a reduction in his 10-year prison sentence for a multimillion-dollar fraud.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the 2014 conviction of Charles Huggins, who a jury found guilty on wire fraud and conspiracy counts. But it said that a lower court judge incorrectly calculated his sentence.

Jonathan Savella, a lawyer for Huggins, said he was "pleased with the outcome insofar as it will allow him to seek a lower sentence." He said Huggins, 70, has been in custody since being convicted in October 2014.

A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment.

Prosecutors said Huggins, of Edgewater, New Jersey, stole millions of dollars from his victims while falsely promising to invest their money in gold and diamonds from Africa.

Instead, he used the proceeds to finance an expensive lifestyle, including a Mercedes Benz, a luxury Manhattan apartment and high-end restaurant bills, authorities said.

Altogether, investors lost more than $8 million, prosecutors said.

Among the victims was former National Football League star Emmitt Smith, according to court papers. Another former NFL player, Ken Hamlin, testified for the government at Huggins' trial.

Huggins was once married to soul singer Melba Moore, who submitted a video in his support to U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein before sentencing.

The case is U.S. v. Huggins, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-1676

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; editing by Grant McCool)

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