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Alpharetta Man Given 9 Months in Federal Prison on Obstruction Charge

The mortgage brokerage owner pleaded guilty in July to conspiring to obstruct a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him.

A 46-year-old Alpharetta man was sentenced today, Oct. 24, to nine months in federal prison on charges he conspired to obstruct justice in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

James Pefanis, 46, of Alpharetta, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice relating to false evidence and testimony presented to a federal court in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release. Pefanis pleaded guilty to the charge on July 30.

 According to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, the charges and other information presented in court:  Pefanis was the owner and CEO of “AME Financial Corp.,” a mortgage brokerage firm in Alpharetta. In October 2007, an attorney representing a former AME employee, identified as "Jane Doe," sent a letter to Pefanis stating that the former employee intended to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against him based upon events that took place on Aug. 16, 2007, in the presence of another employee, identified as "John Doe."

Following his receipt of the letter, Pefanis asked John Doe to sign a statement, which Pefanis had typed, denying that Doe recalled what had happened on that date. That statement was false, as in fact John Doe did recall the incident.

Jane Doe subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against PEFANIS in federal district court in the Northern District of Georgia. The false "John Doe Statement" was filed in the case. Pefanis also then falsely testified under oath at a hearing in federal district court.

 “This defendant attempted to tip the scales of justice in his favor by fabricating evidence and testifying falsely, undermining the court’s ability to do justice,” the U.S. Attorney said.

Pefanis was indicted in December 2010 on one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, two counts of obstruction of justice, and one count of perjury. He pleaded guilty to the one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

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