Cobb County Fiction Author Sentenced to 12 ½ Years in Prison for Two Fraud Schemes
Mitchell Gross Orchestrated Two Brazen Schemes That Cost His Victims Millions
ATLANTA – Mitchell Gross, who has written and published novels under the name “Mitchell Graham,” was sentenced today by Judge Julie E. Carnes to serve 12 1/2 years in federal prison for schemes in which he defrauded a woman he met through an Internet dating service of almost $3 million; defrauded another woman with whom he had a romantic relationship of approximately $1.5 million; and defrauded a couple of over $2 million in legal fees for “representing” them in a lawsuit that was never filed, announced United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. Gross, 61, of Marietta, Georgia, pleaded guilty on February 21, 2012, to a Criminal Information that charged him with wire fraud and money laundering.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said: “This defendant demonstrated the most callous disregard for his victims, after leading them to believe that he could be trusted not only to safeguard, but to enhance, their financial security. Instead, he stole millions of dollars from them, using phony investment companies and fictional lawsuits. We are pleased that today’s sentence insures that the public will be protected from this fraudster for years to come.”
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke said, “The prosecution of individuals who victimize investors, use the proceeds for their own personal benefit and cheat the government by evading taxes is always a concern of IRS and our law enforcement partners. The sentence today is a vital element in maintaining public confidence that these individuals will be held accountable.”
Gross was sentenced to 12 years, 7 months in federal prison, to be followed by a period of 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of more than $5.8 million.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Gross, a previously disbarred attorney who has written and published novels under the name “Mitchell Graham,” operated two separate fraud schemes. In the first scheme, Gross began a romantic relationship with “R.J.,” a woman he met through an Internet dating service. Gross told R.J. that he was independently wealthy and financially secure, as a result of the successful investment of his funds by “Michael Johnson,” supposedly a licensed stock broker employed by a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch known as “The Merrill Company.” In fact, “Michael Johnson” was an alias used by Gross, and “The Merrill Company” was a fictitious company. R.J. called a phone number provided by Gross and spoke to “Michael Johnson.” In fact, she was speaking to Gross, who disguised his voice to conceal the scheme.
To promote his scheme, Gross caused phony “Merrill Company” account statements to be delivered to R.J. R.J. wired approximately $2.99 million to an account she believed belonged to “The Merrill Company,” which was actually controlled by Gross. Gross used some of R.J.’s funds to repay a former girlfriend, “J.S.,” who had previously been persuaded by Gross to invest funds totaling approximately $1.4 million with “The Merrill Company” based on fraudulent representations similar to those Gross made to R.J. In addition, Gross transferred R.J.’s funds into his own personal bank accounts and used them to purchase items such as artwork, a luxury automobile, and a golf club membership.
In a separate scheme, which Gross conducted simultaneously with the first scheme, he befriended an unmarried couple and held himself out as a successful lawyer and entrepreneur, even though Gross had been disbarred from the practice of law by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1991. Gross convinced the couple that he could represent them in a lawsuit allegedly arising out of the sale of the couple’s real estate business. Over a decade, Gross provided the couple with fake legal papers and phony court documents to lull them into believing that the lawsuit was real and progressing in their favor. In fact, no such lawsuit existed, and the legal fees of approximately $2.2 million that the couple paid Gross were used to fund his personal lifestyle and international travel.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service.
Assistant United States Attorneys Steven D. Grimberg and Teresa D. Hoyt prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.