NEW YORK -- A notorious fraudster who ripped off online eyeglass customers nationwide as he made gruesome threats against some of them seems to be continuing his pattern of nasty menacing, a judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said at the sentencing of Vitaly Borker's codefendant that he believes Borker was behind nasty messages directed at his former business partner prior to the man's sentencing.
The business partner, Michael Voller, was sentenced to time served after the judge credited his cooperation and testimony against Borker at a hearing before Borker was sent to prison last year for two years. Borker, 44, was freed on Nov. 12 after receiving credit for good behavior.
Gardephe said a friend of Voller had received a message that included a call-in phone number for Monday's remote court proceeding and the words: “Just a friendly reminder the rat is going to be sentenced." The judge said the note also said: “Let's pray for the most possible time."
Gardephe said there was no hard evidence that the message came from Borker but it was consistent with previous threats delivered to friends and family of Voller and to customers who complained about services provided by Borker's online eyeglass repair businesses from 2007 to 2017.
Gardephe said Borker appeared to have sent a text message in 2018 to Voller's sister promising to do everything in his power to ensure Voller went to prison. The judge said the text message said life in prison would include strip searches, leg irons “and many tears, count on it!"
When sentencing Borker last year, Gardephe told Borker he still was not accepting responsibility for his crimes after pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy for operating a company called OpticsFast.
In 2012, customers who were harassed by Borker when he ran an earlier version of the online eyecare business testified that he had threatened them with rape and murder when they complained about his company's service.
Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who sentenced Borker and who now sits on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, said he found the gruesome claims by witnesses “highly credible.”
“I hope that I won’t see you in a courtroom again,” Sullivan told Borker at the September 2012 sentencing. The judge cited his lack of remorse and called him ïncorrigible."
Borker's attorney, Dominic Amorosa, declined to comment.