Woman Pleads Guilty to Lying about Former Husband’s Whereabouts During Fugitive Investigation
BOSTON – The ex-wife of a man who was a fugitive for 20 years until his arrest in April 2017, has pleaded guilty to lying about the whereabouts of her former spouse.
Cecily Sturge, 70, of Delray Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty in federal court today to making a materially false statement to a federal agent about the whereabouts of her ex-husband, Scott J. Wolas, who was a fugitive for 20 years in connection with a New York investment scheme until his arrest in April 2017. Wolas, who is also charged in federal court in Boston with operating a fraudulent $1.7 million real estate investment scheme in Quincy, remains in custody while his case is pending.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled Sturge’s sentencing for April 18, 2018.
According to court documents, a federal investigation into Wolas began in early September 2016 when Wolas fled Massachusetts after defrauding at least 19 investors of about $1.7 million in connection with his purported efforts to develop two Quincy properties, including the site of the former Beachcomber Bar. Sturge was interviewed by law enforcement on Nov. 17, 2016, at which time she stated that she had not been in contact with her ex-husband for approximately 15 years. Sturge continued to say that this was so, despite evidence of contact between her cell phone and one known to belong to Wolas that demonstrated more recent communication between the two.
After further investigation, Wolas was arrested on April 7, 2017, at a condominium he was renting in Delray Beach, Fla. Investigators learned that Wolas had first rented a room in the condo from Nov. 12 through Nov. 21, 2016, through an online rental website account in the name of Cecily Sturge. Messages exchanged between the condo owner and Sturge included a photo of Sturge and messages claiming that Wolas (using the name Cameron Sturge) was Sturge’s brother and a retired paleontologist in need of a place to stay. The owner of the condo told authorities that Sturge and Wolas arrived at the condo together in the same car on Nov. 12, 2016, five days before Sturge’s interview with law enforcement.
Sturge was divorced from Wolas in 2001 by default judgment in Palm Beach County, Fla. In February 2017, Sturge filed a petition to modify the judgment in order to obtain the contents of Wolas’ retirement account, which had a balance of approximately $647,000, from the New York law firm where he worked prior to being indicted in 1997 by New York authorities. In pleadings filed in February and March 2017 in that matter, Sturge swore that Wolas’s whereabouts were unknown to her, despite telephone records showing frequent contact between the two. Bank surveillance photos also showed the two of them together at a Florida bank where some of the pleadings were notarized. In addition, copies or drafts of documents filed in the Florida proceeding were found in the room and on a USB drive taken from the room where Wolas was arrested. The United States has obtained a court order freezing the retirement account until the resolution of the criminal proceedings.
The charging statute provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Lelling’s Criminal Division is prosecuting the case.