Fugitive U.S. Lawyer Expelled From Nicaragua To Face Chargesof International Investment Fraud And Money Laundering
Tampa, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Lawrence S. Hartman, a/k/a Larry Hartman, a/k/a Larry Hart, a/k/a Lawrence Scott Hartman-Grosser (47, Costa Rica; a U.S. lawyer formerly of New York and Florida), who was arrested on an immigration violation by Nicaraguan authorities last week, was today expelled and deported from Nicaragua and turned over to U.S. authorities in Miami. Hartman faces charges of both conspiracy to commit, and substantive acts of, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering arising from an international investment fraud and money laundering scheme that resulted in victim-investor losses in excess of $137 million. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment on each of the three conspiracy and substantive mail and wire fraud offenses, and 10 years in prison on each of the substantive money laundering counts (Counts 4 - 17).
Hartman was charged in a Superseding Indictment on March 2009. He is expected to make his initial appearance tomorrow, May 16, 2013, at 1:30 pm in U.S. District Court in Miami.
This apprehension and expulsion was achieved through the joint cooperation of various agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Embassy Managua, INTERPOL Washington, and the Nicaraguan National Police.
To date, juries have found four of Hartman's co-defendants guilty of the fraud scheme, and another co-defendant pleaded guilty. Specifically, on April 19, 2013, a federal jury found United Kingdom citizens, Paul R. Gunter (64, Odessa, Florida; originally of London), and Simon Andrew Odoni (56, Hertfordshire, UK) guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, as well as nineteen counts of mail and wire fraud, and fourteen counts of money laundering. Gunter and Odoni each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the conspiracy charges and each of the separate mail and wire fraud charges, and up to 10 years on each of the money laundering charges. Both individuals will also be ordered to forfeit real property, bank accounts, an airplane, vessels, and vehicles purchased with proceeds of the fraud scheme. As part of the investigation, federal agents seized nearly $5 million in U.S. currency. Gunter and Odoni are scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, 2013.
In March 2011, co-defendant Richard Sinclair Pope pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Pope faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In a related trial that took place in May 2012, Houston lawyers Roger Lee Shoss and Nicolette Loisel were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with their participation in the corporate identity theft aspect of the scheme. The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, Tampa, Florida, as well as the U.S. Secret Service, Tampa, Florida and Newark, New Jersey Field Offices.
The government received assistance from several other authorities, including the City of London Police, the UK's Serious Fraud Office and Norfolk Constabulary, the Spanish National Police, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, and the British Columbia Securities Commission.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke and Kelley Howard-Allen.