NEW YORK (AP) — An eyewear website operator who served more than three years in prison for threatening customers with murder or rape when they complained about eyeglasses was imprisoned Monday by the same judge who sentenced him five years ago.
"I don't see how he's allowed to be back in business," an exasperated U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said at a bail hearing as he took off his glasses and angrily tossed them onto his bench.
Vitaly Borker, 41, a Ukrainian immigrant living in Brooklyn, was before Sullivan again after he was arrested nearly two weeks ago on mail and wire fraud charges, accused of peddling shoddy glasses online as premium ware. His lawyers said he was falsely charged.
Federal officials said they learned Borker was back in business after reading an article in The New York Times in March headlined: "A Pitch for Eyeglasses That Sounds Eerily Familiar."
Sullivan had sentenced Borker to four years in prison in 2012 after hearing victims from across the country testify that he had harassed them between 2007 and 2010 when they complained about eyeglasses they had bought from his website, DecorMyEyes.com.
"You were terrifying people, putting them in fear of their lives, of being viciously raped," Sullivan said at the time. Borker said then that he was "genuinely and deeply sorry for the awful threats that I made."
After his release from prison in 2015, Borker resumed operations from OpticsFast.com, generating fresh complaints that premium, name-brand eyeglasses or sunglasses sometimes were arriving at the homes of customers poorly made, dirty and damaged, according to a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court.
The complaint did not allege violent threats but said emails from the company told one woman she was a "stupid stupid lady" and a "total degenerate" while emails from someone signed "Becky S." taunted customers who complained about eyeglasses, including one which said: "I have been doing this for a decade. I will teach you a thing or 2 indeed."
Sullivan noted that the complaint alleges Borker is "Becky S." and he "definitely had contact with customers."
Sometimes, the complaint said, the company threatened legal action. It said one victim, living in New Mexico, was harassed by OpticsFast with 70 text messages per day from 70 different numbers so that he had to change his phone number to avoid being contacted.
Defense attorney Dominic Amorosa argued Monday that Borker is falsely charged.
"He's not communicating with customers," Amorosa said, asking that Borker at least be allowed to remain free with electronic monitoring.
The lawyer said the company has processed 70,000 orders with only 213 complaints to the Better Business Bureau.
Amorosa said the government was overstating his client's involvement in the business.