Staten Island Man Convicted Of Scheme To Defraud Investors Of $5 Million
Peter Liounis, a resident of Staten Island, was convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn on all nine counts of the indictment for defrauding investors of millions of dollars through Grayson Hewitt, a purported lawsuit funding investment firm. Liounis lied to potential investors and promised them a fixed rate of return on their investments. Rather than make investments as promised, Liounis and his coconspirators stole the investors’ money to purchase gold for their own use. Through the scheme, Liounis defrauded investors of approximately five million dollars. The jury’s verdict followed a two-week trial in United States District Court before the Hon. I. Leo Glasser. Liounis was convicted of six counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire and mail fraud conspiracy, and one count of securities fraud.
The verdict was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Philip R. Bartlett, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New York Division; James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; and Steven G. Hughes, Special Agent-in-Charge, United States Secret Service.
"As the evidence at trial showed, Liounis lied to his victims over and over again, and went on to steal the savings of hard-working individuals. His victims’ needs meant nothing to him, as they were just the means he used to the end of filling his own pockets," stated United States Attorney Lynch. "We will tirelessly pursue individuals who seek to profit through this type of fraud." Ms. Lynch extended her appreciation to the Postal Inspection Service, New York Division; Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; and the United States Secret Service for their assistance in the investigation.
The evidence at trial established that from May 2010 through April 2012, Liounis used the alias "Mark Anderson," to solicit potential investors for Grayson Hewitt. Liounis told potential investors that Grayson Hewitt purchased plaintiffs’ rights to future recoveries in personal injury and other lawsuits, and promised them a return of fifteen percent or more. To perpetrate the scheme, Liounis and his coconspirators sent the victims bogus account statements. In a series of calls captured by a court-ordered wiretap, the son of an investor sought the return of his father's money so that the son could place his father, who had suffered a heart attack, into assisted living. Although the father had some $23,000 left in his Grayson Hewitt account, Liounis falsely told the son that his father had been depleting the account and had only $3,000 remaining. Liounis then sent the father and son a "get well fruit basket." In another call, a Grayson Hewitt investor expressed skepticism about the company, noting "I see this as a Bernie Madoff deal." Liounis responded, "this is no way, no how, a Bernie Madoff...believe that!...You gotta understand, the amount of money we handle here, uh, we'd go away for a hell of a lot longer than Bernie did."
Liounis faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on each of the nine counts of conviction.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Yaeger and Justin Lerer, with assistance from Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Spector.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The Task Force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
Staten Island, New York