14:54, January 29 65 0 abajournal.com

2019-01-29 14:54:06
Fugitive firm partner sentenced for $1.9M real estate fraud scheme perpetrated under fake identity

Photo by Stefan Malloch/Shutterstock.com.

A former partner at Hunton & Williams, now known as Hunton Andrews Kurth since early last year, who was using a fake identity when he ran a fraudulent real estate scheme has been sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.

Scott Wolas, 69, was sentenced Monday to 81 months in prison for collecting money from at least 24 real estate investors, then disappearing with the money, report the Boston Globe, the Patriot Ledger and a press release.

It was the second time that Wolas had disappeared. The first disappearance was in 1997, after his indictment in an alleged Ponzi scheme. He began operating the new scheme in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 2014 using the name Eugene Grathwohl, prosecutors say.

The real Eugene Grathwohl lived in Florida and was known to Wolas, according to the press release. In addition to the Grathwohl alias, Wolas used at least six other fake identities after his initial disappearance, according to the Patriot Ledger.

Wolas had claimed he would use the real estate money he collected in Massachusetts to buy and renovate a nightclub property. He actually used the money for personal expenses, according to prosecutors.

The Patriot Ledger details the alleged spending. It included at least $98,000 to buy stamps, rare books and other collectibles; $50,000 spent on restaurant meals; and $350,000 to renovate a home. He also withdrew at least $600,000 in cash and wrote $300,000 in checks to a person who transferred money to offshore accounts, according to the allegations.

Wolas was arrested in April 2017 in Delray Beach, Florida. He had been disbarred in 1999.

Wolas was sentenced in Boston federal court by U.S. District Judge Dennis Saylor. The judge ordered Wolas to pay more than $1.9 million in restitution to the victims of his real estate fraud scheme, along with restitution of nearly $70,000 to Social Security and Medicare, and about $318,000 to the IRS.

“He lied to everyone, even people who loved him, and abandoned everyone, including people who loved him,” Saylor said during sentencing. “This was an elaborate fraud.”

Wolas had pleaded guilty last July to seven counts of wire fraud and one count each of aggravated identity theft, misuse of a Social Security number and tax evasion.