ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A man who wooed woman and investors and took their money made a deal to get out of prison almost 30 years early by promising to pay off his victims.
Michael Soutar wanted the court to cut 27 years off his sentence and in return he promised to pay his victims nearly $200,000. The judge agreed.
In court Thursday, Santa Fe District Judge Michael Vigil told Soutar he sentenced him to 34 years behind bars partially because he never thought victims would be paid back.
"You tend to be quick to use other people's money in a reckless manner," Judge Vigil said.
But all that changed recently when Soutar won a lawsuit against a Santa Fe law firm for malpractice.
That firm helped set up the ill-fated Santa Fe art market with Soutar, which is where Soutar swindled his investors.
Sources say Soutar won hundreds of thousands of dollars in the confidential settlement.
With that money, Soutar now can pay back all the victims associated with the Santa Fe case.
The money coupled with the error by the law firm appeared to sway the judge.
"I think seven years is sufficient time to have gotten your attention," Vigil said.
Another reason the judge says he had a change of heart is because Soutar has prostate cancer and will need expensive treatment.
"I don't think the taxpayers of New Mexico should have to foot that bill," Vigil said.
The judge told Soutar to watch his steps saying if he fouls up he could go back to prison for 15 years.
Soutar tearfully apologized to his victims although none of them were in court Thursday.
An attorney for four of them told the court they were okay with Soutar going free as long as they get their money.
The state attorney general's office did not fight Soutar's deal.
He should be released in a matter of days.
Soutar wants move to Connecticut to be with his fiancee.
John Smith with your forecast and Kim Vallez with your afternoon headlines.
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