News and Press Releases

BROWARD MAN CHARGED WITH MAIL FRAUD IN ATTEMPTED SALE OF COUNTERFEIT ARTWORK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, announced that defendant Luigi Cugini, 58, of Broward County, was charged yesterday in a criminal complaint for his participation in a scheme to commit mail fraud by selling reproductions of John Singer Sargent paintings and claiming that they were authentic artworks, in violation of Title 18, United States code, Section 1341.

According to the criminal complaint and supporting affidavit, on or about May 27, 2010, an FBI undercover agent (UC) met with Luigi Cugini at his residence. The UC purported to be a jewelry broker who had clients interested in purchasing artwork from well-known painters. Cugini showed the UC numerous paintings, which Cugini claimed were authentic original pieces by well-known artists, including John Singer Sargent.

In furtherance of the scheme, Cugini provided the UC with three letters of consignment, purportedly from Sotheby’s auction house, as proof that the paintings were authentic Singer artworks. To execute the scheme, on July 13, 2010, Cugini signed and mailed to the UC a contract for the sale of three purported Sargent artworks, titled “A Gust of Wind,” “Under the Willows,” and “Head of a Young Woman.” Further investigation by the FBI confirmed that the purported Sotheby’s letters were not genuine.

If convicted, Cugini faces a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 20 years.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lothrop Morris.

A complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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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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