‘Lottery Lawyer’ Is Accused of Fleecing Winners in $107 Million Fraud

Prosecutors order the criminal skilled spent one of the most stolen funds on a golf membership membership, a Porsche and taking a take into story sprees.Jason M. Kurland used to be is called the “Lottery Lawyer.”Credit…David HandschuhHe called himself the “Lottery Lawyer,” constructing a national reputation for serving to excessive-profile lottery winners with their investments.He promised to procure their wealth for generations and to guard them from scam artists.However on Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused the criminal skilled, Jason M. Kurland, of working with a mob accomplice to steal millions of greenbacks from his purchasers.Mr. Kurland, 46, used to be arrested on Tuesday morning at his dwelling on Long Island alongside three a huge selection of males — including Christopher Chierchio, 52, who prosecutors acknowledged used to be a reputed soldier for the Genovese crime family.As half of the arrangement, Mr. Kurland tricked three lottery winners who had hired him into putting $107 million into a huge selection of investments, prosecutors acknowledged. The lottery winners misplaced a total of more than $80 million.Concept to be one of them used to be the winner of closing one year’s $1.5 billion Mega Hundreds of thousands jackpot in South Carolina.After persuading the lottery winners to make investments, the four males then spent one of the most funds on golf membership memberships, yachts, non-public jets, a Porsche and heaps of luxurious autos and taking a take into story sprees at shops esteem Fendi, prosecutors acknowledged.“Lottery winners can’t bear in mind their luck after they steal millions of greenbacks, and the males we arrested this morning allegedly aged that euphoric feeling to their advantage,” acknowledged William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the F.B.I.’s Fresh York notify of job.Mr. Kurland and his alleged co-conspirators face various counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. They every pleaded now no longer guilty at their arraignments on Tuesday.A criminal skilled for Mr. Kurland declined to express. A criminal skilled for Mr. Chierchio acknowledged his client used to be now no longer affiliated with the mafia and expected to be cleared of the costs.Legislation enforcement officers had been wiretapping the males’s phone calls for months, including conversations whereby they talked about whether they may perchance well well match to prison.The lottery winners paid between $75,000 and $200,000 in upfront payments to rent Mr. Kurland and his law company, per court docket papers. Mr. Kurland then charged monthly charges of between $15,000 and $50,000.A spokeswoman for Rivkin Radler, the law company the put Mr. Kurland has worked since 2018, acknowledged the company used to be cooperating with the authorities and deliberate to grasp away him as a partner.In a 2016 interview with Vice, Mr. Kurland talked about the prevalence of scams targeting lottery winners. “Quite a bit of these winners are now no longer sophisticated sufficient to take into story it,” he acknowledged, “so you in fact favor to depend on the mavens.”On Mr. Kurland’s Twitter story, he in most cases entreated lottery winners across the country to rent him, using hashtags esteem #callme. In outdated interviews, he acknowledged he has represented lottery winners since 2011, specializing in navigating the rules spherical right property and trusts.At the help of the scenes, prosecutors acknowledged, Mr. Kurland used to be getting kickbacks for steering lottery winners to make investments in alternate deals managed by Mr. Chierchio and the two a huge selection of defendants, Frangesco Russo, 38, and Francis Smookler, 45.Some of the deals enthusiastic companies that purchased non-public protective equipment all the arrangement thru the coronavirus pandemic to the notify of California and to the Fresh York Police Division, court docket papers confirmed.All the arrangement thru a phone call closing month that used to be intercepted by law enforcement, Mr. Kurland advised an accomplice that the rising coronavirus outbreak in Florida would bode smartly for alternate. “The more serious it’s the simpler,” he acknowledged, per prosecutors.The males directed one of the most lottery winners’ money to a jeweler named Gregory Altieri, who had promised sky-excessive returns to his investors. Final month, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused him of defrauding his investors in a $200 million Ponzi arrangement.Earlier this one year, when Mr. Altieri didn’t repay a mortgage, Mr. Russo and Mr. Smookler threatened to torture him and shoot his family, prosecutors acknowledged.Mr. Russo’s father used to be a Colombo crime family captain who died whereas serving a lifestyles sentence in penal complex for abolish, and he talked about his father whereas threatening Mr. Altieri, prosecutors acknowledged.A criminal skilled for Mr. Russo didn’t reply to a quiz for express. Mr. Smookler’s criminal skilled had no rapid express.Legislation enforcement officers are attempting to search out to recuperate any stolen funds by seizing 13 bank accounts related to the arrangement, which had been going on since at the least 2018.In one instance, Mr. Kurland transferred $19.5 million out of a client’s story without the client’s permission and funneled worthy of it to Mr. Chierchio, prosecutors acknowledged.In 2004, Mr. Chierchio pleaded guilty in a notify case in Brooklyn to falsifying alternate records. Final one year, he used to be acquitted at trial on express-rigging costs.Prosecutors acknowledged Mr. Chierchio lived in a $11,000-a-month luxurious building in Long island and purports to bustle a plumbing alternate.In a call closing month that used to be intercepted by law enforcement, Mr. Chierchio brushed off an accomplice’s concerns about a federal investigation into the lottery arrangement, saying he had been pursued by the authorities his whole lifestyles.“So bring the F.B.I. Who cares?” Mr. Chierchio acknowledged, per prosecutors. “It doesn’t matter. I laugh at them. OK? I laugh at them.”In phone calls, Mr. Kurland talked about with his pals how to duvet up the arrangement, shy they were “taking half in with fire,” per court docket papers. The males wondered if giving the money help to the lottery winners would thwart the investigation or if they may perchance well well build the theft take into story esteem reliable alternate transactions, prosecutors acknowledged.At one point, per court docket papers, Mr. Smookler and Mr. Russo predicted that they may perchance well well face fraud costs; Mr. Smookler acknowledged on a phone call that he hoped to merely face a animated and now no longer jog to prison.“We’re in a minute little bit of little bit of a quandary,” he acknowledged.

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