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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 18, 2016

Cazenovia Man Convicted of Fraud and Money Laundering

Jury Trial Results In Guilty Verdict Against James P. Griffin

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Following a seven-day trial, a jury returned a verdict today against James P. Griffin, 71, of Cazenovia, finding him guilty of all 23 counts of mail and wire fraud and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

The evidence at trial showed Griffin is the Chief Executive Officer of several companies using variations of the names 54 Freedom and 5 Ledyard, all headquartered at 5 Ledyard Avenue, Cazenovia, New York.  Testimony and documents established that Griffin solicited over $1.6 million in sales from 2009 to 2011 through a scheme involving a financial product called the 54 Freedom Charitable Gift Annuity.  Griffin promised that the product was backed by a highly-rated, major insurance carrier and would provide guaranteed lifetime income to the purchaser.  The trial evidence also showed that Griffin knew the Charitable Gift Annuities were not underwritten by insurance companies, and purchasers received no payments after 2013.  Griffin was convicted of mail and wire fraud related to this scheme, and laundering money through various company bank accounts.

The jury also found Griffin guilty of mail fraud based on a scheme to entice investors to use retirement funds to invest in his companies by falsely promising to protect them from the tax consequences of withdrawing funds from qualified retirement accounts.  Through this scheme, Griffin received at least $370,000.

Over the course of seven days, forty-one witnesses testified in the government’s case, and Griffin testified in his own defense.

Griffin will be sentenced in Syracuse on November 15, 2016, by Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., who presided over the trial.  Griffin faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years on each of the mail and wire fraud counts and ten years on the money laundering counts.  Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward R. Broton and Carina H. Schoenberger.

Topic: 
Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Updated July 19, 2016