Department of Justice
Fugitive U.S. lawyer expelled from Nicaragua to face charges of international investment fraud and money laundering
TAMPA, FL - INTERPOL Washington assisted in the apprehension of an U.S. lawyer formerly of New York and Florida, who was located and arrested last week by Nicaraguan authorities on an immigration violation and later expelled and deported from Nicaragua to the United States to face federal criminal charges in Miami.
Lawrence S. Hartman aka Larry Hartman, Larry Hart and Lawrence Scott Hartman-Grosser, 47, of Costa Rica faces charges of both conspiracy to commit, and substantive acts of, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering arising from an international investment fraud and money laundering scheme that resulted in victim-investor losses more than $137 million. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the three conspiracy and substantive mail and wire fraud offenses, and 10 years in prison on each of the substantive money laundering counts.
Hartman was charged in a March 2009 superseding indictment and is expected to make his initial appearance May 16 in U.S. District Court in Miami.
This apprehension and expulsion was achieved through the joint cooperation of various agencies including INTERPOL Washington, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Embassy Managua and the Nicaraguan National Police.
In August 2009, INTERPOL Washington approved a Red Notice application for Lawrence S. Hartman and provided that information to member INTERPOL national central bureaus in the countries he was believed to have traveled. After Hartman entered Nicaragua using a false name, Nicaraguan National Police were able to establish his true identity and also determined that a Red Notice was issued for him. Subsequently, he was expelled from Nicaragua to the United States where he was arrested.
“INTERPOL Washington will continue to serve as a conduit between U.S. law enforcement agencies and its 190 international law enforcement agency partners to assist in the capture of fugitives and communicate on investigative matters ranging from simple criminal history checks to the sharing of vital criminal intelligence and investigative leads,” said INTERPOL Washington Director Shawn A. Bray.
To date, juries have found four of Hartman's co-defendants guilty of the fraud scheme, and another co-defendant pleaded guilty. Specifically, April 19, a federal grand jury found United Kingdom citizens, Paul R. Gunter, 64, residing in Odessa, Fla. and originally of London, and Simon Andrew Odoni, 56, of Hertfordshire, UK, guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, as well as 19 counts of mail and wire fraud and 14 counts of money laundering. Gunter and Odoni each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the conspiracy charges and each of the separate mail and wire fraud charges and up to 10 years on each of the money laundering charges. Both individuals will also be ordered to forfeit real property, bank accounts, an airplane, vessels, and vehicles purchased with proceeds of the fraud scheme. As part of the investigation, federal agents seized nearly $5 million in U.S. currency. Gunter and Odoni are scheduled to be sentenced July 23.
In March 2011, co-defendant Richard Sinclair Pope pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Pope faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In a related trial that took place in May 2012, Houston lawyers Roger Lee Shoss and Nicolette Loisel were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with their participation in the corporate identity theft aspect of the scheme.
The case was investigated by HSI Tampa and the U.S. Secret Service's Tampa and Newark, New Jersey field offices.
The government received assistance from several other authorities including the City of London Police, the UK's Serious Fraud Office and Norfolk Constabulary, the Spanish National Police, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission and the British Columbia Securities Commission.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke and Kelley Howard-Allen in the Middle District of Florida.