News and Press Releases

Former Mutual Benefits Corporation Trustee Sentenced to Ten Years for His Role in $1 Billion MBC Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Anthony Livoti, Jr., 65, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced today in Miami by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. to ten years in prison. Livoti was also ordered to pay over $800 million in restitution to fraud victims.

Livoti was convicted after nearly a three-month trial by a Miami federal jury of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ' 1349, 1956(h), and 1341, respectively. The verdict was the result of Livoti’s participation in a scheme to defraud approximately 30,000 victims who invested in the viatical and life settlement company Mutual Benefits Corp. (MBC). According to the indictment, Livoti and others, including Joel Steinger, a/k/a “Joel Steiner,” Steven Steiner a/k/a Steven Steinger, and Michael McNerney, raised more than $1.25 billion from these investor-victims before being shut down by federal regulators in May 2004. Steven Steiner received a fifteen-year sentence and Joel Steinger, who recently pled guilty, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Scola on June 6, 2014.

According to the evidence presented at trial, from approximately 1994 to May 2004, MBC purchased life insurance policies from the elderly, as well as persons suffering from AIDS and other chronic illnesses. Thereafter, MBC sold fractionalized interests in insurance policy death benefits, known as “viatical settlements,” to approximately 30,000 investor-victims. MBC told investors that its viatical settlements offered a fixed rate of return with low risk, and that investors’ principal and returns were paid by the insurance companies. Evidence presented at trial established that MBC misrepresented many important facts relating to its viatical settlements, including, for example, the estimated life expectancies of the insured persons, MBC’s fraudulent methods used to acquire life insurance policies, the risks associated with certain policies, the payment of premiums, and the source of funds used to pay investors.

Anthony Livoti, Jr., an attorney licensed by the State of Florida, was MBC’s premium trustee, and as a result was entrusted with millions of dollars of investor money placed in bank accounts under his control. Livoti was also the designated “trustee” of thousands of the insurance policies sold by MBC. Evidence showed that Livoti assisted MBC with the marketing of its fraudulent investment by meeting with investors in his Fort Lauderdale law office and encouraging them to purchase MBC investments.

Witnesses testified that new investor money was regularly used to pay premiums on life insurance policies purchased by earlier investors and to pay investors who requested their money back. In Ponzi-like fashion, Livoti and his co-conspirators were using new investor money to pay for earlier investor obligations. As the fraud continued, eventually investor money was required to prevent the MBC Ponzi from collapsing. Ultimately, investors lost more than $800 million.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Miami Regional Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which previously brought a civil action against MBC and its principals. This case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Rochlin and Roger Cruz.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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