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Names in the News - April 25, 2007

Staff Report • Apr 24, 2007 at 11:24 AM

ST. MARTINVILLE, La. - Willie Nelson and his tour manager were spared jail time Tuesday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.

Nelson and tour manager David Anderson, along with Nelson's sister, Bobbie Nelson, and two drivers, were issued citations on Sept. 18 after state troopers said they found marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms on the country legend's tour bus during a commercial-vehicle inspection on Interstate 10.

State District Judge Paul deMahy fined Nelson and Anderson $1,024 each and put both on probation for six months. As part of a plea agreement, the citation against Bobbie Nelson was dismissed.

St. Martin Parish Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars said he dismissed the citations against the two drivers because there was no indication they "had anything to do with the contraband."

Word spread quickly that Nelson was in this small southern Louisiana town, and a crowd of about 25 fans gathered outside to wait for the entertainer after his brief court appearance. When he emerged, Nelson obliged, shaking hands, signing scraps of paper and posing for photographs.

"Thank y'all," he said, waving as he climbed into a waiting car.

PHILADELPHIA - A classic-car broker who swindled actor Nicolas Cage and other clients before he was caught in Spain was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison and $1.8 million in restitution.

Peter Brotman, 47, of Oaks, sold collectables such as a 1964 Rolls-Royce, a 1988 Aston Martin and a 1954 Jaguar on consignment, then kept the money or used it to pay off earlier debts.

Cage, identified in the 14-count indictment as "N.C.," lost $300,000 in April 2004 when Brotman didn't send him the full proceeds from the sale of three Ferraris and a Cobra.

"The guy was extremely knowledgeable in the classic-car industry," Assistant U.S. Attorney Floyd J. Miller said after the sentencing hearing. "It's a very insular community of mostly wealthy people. They have these auctions at Pebble Beach, Monte Carlo, other places where the rich and famous meet."

Brotman also defrauded Willow Grove Bank out of $950,000 they lent him to run his suburban Philadelphia business, Pennsylvania Motor Sports, prosecutors said.

He apologized in court Tuesday to his victims, saying he had made poor decisions, defense lawyer Noah Gorson said.

Gorson argued in court papers that Brotman went to Europe to pursue work so he could repay them. At one point, he pledged the proceeds of a $450 million art deal he hoped to broker, but questions arose about the authenticity of the 93 pieces.

Gorson, in the filings, blamed the financial scam on his client's "cash-flow problems."

Brotman, who has been detained, pleaded guilty in January to 14 mail-, wire- and bank-fraud counts.

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