Prosecutors call RI art dealer a ruthless con man

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A federal prosecutor says a former Rhode Island art dealer charged in a $6 million fraud case is a ruthless con man. A defense attorney says his client is the victim of his accountant, a greedy business partner and investors who want their money back.

Jurors heard closing arguments Monday in the trial of Rocco DeSimone. He’s charged with mail fraud and money laundering counts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vilker told jurors that DeSimone defrauded investors with inventions he falsely claimed major corporations had offered to buy for millions of dollars.

Thomas Connors, an attorney for DeSimone, said his client’s accountant oversaw his business dealings.

He also questioned the motive of several prosecution witnesses. Connors says witnesses involved in a separate lawsuit against DeSimone have a financial motive to testify.

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