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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Former Lawyer And CPA Charged With Tax Crimes In Addition To Defrauding Elderly Investors

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of a superseding indictment charging Phillip Roy Wasserman (63, Sarasota) and Kenneth Murray Rossman (62, Bradenton) with filing false income tax returns, in addition to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and substantive counts of wire fraud and mail fraud. The superseding indictment also charges Wasserman with tax evasion. If convicted, Wasserman and Rossman each face a maximum penalty of 20 years on each of the conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud counts, and up to 3 years’ imprisonment on each count of filing a false income tax return. In addition, Wasserman faces a maximum of 5 years’ imprisonment for the tax evasion count. The superseding indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States is seeking a money judgment of at least $6.3 million, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

According to the superseding indictment, Wasserman, a former lawyer and licensed insurance agent, and Rossman, a Florida certified public accountant and licensed insurance agent, made false and fraudulent misrepresentations and concealed material information in order to convince elderly victim-investors to put their money into Wasserman’s new insurance venture, “FastLife.” Some victims were persuaded to liquidate traditional investments, such as annuities, and/or to borrow funds against existing life insurance policies to generate cash to invest in the venture. These victims were not told about surrender fees and other costs associated with the liquidations, and Rossman prepared income tax returns for victim-investors in a manner designed to conceal negative personal tax consequences that resulted from the liquidations from both the victim-investors and the Internal Revenue Service. Wasserman paid Rossman a percentage of the victim-investors’ money as compensation for his role in the conspiracy. Wasserman also used the victim-investors’ funds to make payments both to earlier victim-investors in the FastLife venture and to victim-investors in his earlier hedge fund and real estate fund ventures. Wasserman spent a significant amount of the victim-investors’ money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included luxury residences, high-end vehicles, jet skis, jewelry, entertainment, gambling, retail shopping, home improvements, personal insurance, and many other expenses, for his personal benefit and the benefit of his family members.

The superseding indictment also alleges that Wasserman took numerous steps to evade payment of more than $900,000 in taxes and filed false individual and corporate income tax returns. It also alleges that Rossman filed false income tax returns for himself and for victim-investors.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke and Colin P. McDonell.

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Tax
Component(s): 
Updated November 18, 2020