Tagged: ponzi scheme

New Trend: Lawyers as White-Collar Defendants

What’s with all the lawyers getting arrested these days, being charged with financial frauds, Ponzi schemes and the like? Is this a new trend? It sure seems like one.

The latest news is the announcement about an hour ago that the SDNY is charging one Kenneth Starr (no, not that one, this one), money manager for a bunch of celebrities, with yet another Ponzi scheme, funnelling $30 million of investors’ money into his own pockets. He’s a lawyer in New York. (You can read the complaint here.)

Then there’s the former law firm partner Michael Margulies, charged the other day with embezzling $2 million from his firm and clients in Minneapolis over the past 16 years. Coincidentally-named lawyer James Margulies of Cleveland was charged the other day in a $60 million stock swindle. A couple of weeks ago, two lawyers were charged with a mortgage-rescue fraud involving stripping $3 million in equity. A lawyer went to prison a little before that for rigging tax-lien auctions.

That’s just a handful of headlines from this month alone. But it’s been going on for several months now. We’ve been noticing lawyers getting charged with increasing frequency ever since last July when Marc Dreier got sentenced to 20 years for hedge fund swindles totaling God knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars. It really kicked into high gear, however, in December, after Scott Rothstein was arrested for a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. And now there are several cases being announced every month.

What’s going on here?

Sure, these kinds of schemes tend to get noticed all at once, when the economy goes south, and the market’s gains no longer mask the fraud. So we’re not wondering why all of a sudden there’s a bunch of financial-fraud arrests. Our question is how come so many of these cases involve lawyers.

Has the profession changed? Is it something new about how lawyers are getting more involved as investment managers and financial advisors? Or is there a new focus by law enforcement? We really don’t know.

But it sure looks like something’s going on out there. What do you think?

We’re Not Alone

  Yesterday, we observed that there have been a lot of Ponzi schemes coming down lately, and asked what gives? Today, the Wall Street Journal made the same observation, and asked the same question. Here are some points from the article: * In 2007, the SEC had brought civil actions...

Yet Another Massive Ponzi Scheme Alleged. What’s that tell you?

Nick Cosmo, the 37-year-old head of Agape World Inc. and Agape Merchant Advance, was arraigned today on charges that he ran a Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of $370 million since 2006. The feds allege that about 1,500 investors were promised annual returns of as much as 80%. These...

“Not With Me, They Don’t” – Race Not a Factor in Sentence, Says Judge

  District Court Judge Percy Anderson sentenced Jeanetta Standefor to more than 12 years in prison on Tuesday, for running an $18 million Ponzi scheme that preyed on middle-class black investors. Standefor, who is also black, solicited investments from 650 people around Pasadena who thought the money would go to...