A four-count indictment was unsealed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging the defendant John Derounian with mail fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to defraud the estate of an elderly victim of more than $1.2 million. The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury sitting in Central Islip, New York, on July 26, 2016.
The charges were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Philip Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division.
“Driven by greed, the defendant allegedly went to great lengths to perpetrate his fraudulent scheme to steal an elderly woman’s entire life-savings. Such conduct cannot, and will not, be allowed to go unpunished,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “This Office and the United States Postal Inspection Service are committed to protecting members of our community from fraudsters, especially those who target the elderly.” Mr. Capers extended his appreciation to Morgan Stanley for its invaluable cooperation during the investigation.
“To devise a scheme to steal from the deceased is despicably morbid. Mr. Derounian’s alleged crimes are unconscionable. Postal Inspectors have no tolerance for anyone who preys on innocent victims, either dead or alive, and will spare no resources to ensure those who commit these crimes are brought to justice,” stated Postal Inspector-in-Charge Bartlett.
As detailed in the initial complaint, prior court proceedings, and the indictment unsealed today, Derounian is charged for his role in a scheme to steal the entire estate of a woman, who is identified in the indictment as Jane Doe. On November 12, 2015, Derounian claimed to have found the body of Jane Doe, Derounian’s tenant, at her Sea Cliff home. Subsequent to Jane Doe’s death, Derounian is alleged to have 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.
Further, in an effort to perpetuate the fraud, Derounian created a forged will naming himself as the executor and sole beneficiary, aside from a comparatively small charitable donation, of Jane Doe’s estate. Derounian allegedly then used the authority of the forged will to cremate the body of Jane Doe 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.
The defendant, who was previously arrested on a complaint and detained, is scheduled to be arraigned this morning before United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack at the federal courthouse in Central Islip.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal and Civil Sections. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark E. Misorek and Robert W. Schumacher are in charge of the prosecution.
Sea Cliff, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-412 (JMA)