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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 25, 2018

Long Island Man Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Loot Dead Woman’s Estate

Defendant Also Admitted to Possessing Child Pornography

Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, John Derounian pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a scheme to steal more than $1.2 million from the estate of the elderly victim (“Jane Doe”) by transferring Jane Doe’s assets into accounts controlled by the defendant.  Derounian also pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.  The proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Phillip Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division, announced the guilty plea.

As detailed in prior court proceedings and the superseding indictment, on November 12, 2015, Derounian claimed to have found the body of Jane Doe, Derounian’s tenant, at her apartment in his Sea Cliff home.  Subsequent to Jane Doe’s death, Derounian placed a series of telephone calls and sent emails to Morgan Stanley in an effort to drain Jane Doe’s financial accounts of over $200,000. 

In an effort to perpetuate the fraud, Derounian created a forged will naming himself as the executor and sole beneficiary of Jane Doe’s estate, aside from a comparatively small charitable donation.  Derounian then used the authority of the forged will to cremate Jane Doe’s body and sell her real property for over $1 million, which he transferred into bank accounts he controlled.  As a result of the investigation to date, funds totaling over $1.2 million have been seized from Derounian, and the indictment seeks forfeiture of those funds.

Derounian was arrested on June 26, 2016, and law enforcement officers recovered various electronic devices from his home that contained approximately 50 images of child pornography.

When sentenced, Derounian faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment for mail fraud and 20 years’ imprisonment for possession of child pornography.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Mark E. Misorek is in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Robert W. Schumacher of the Office’s Civil Division is handling matters relating to forfeiture.

The Defendant:

JOHN DEROUNIAN
Age:  53
Sea Cliff, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-cr-412 (JMA)

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
John Marzulli Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated June 26, 2018