Fugitive Lawyer Brought to South Florida to Face Federal Fraud Charges
Michael R. Casey, 71, a fugitive for over four years, wanted on federal charges related to an alleged $20 million investment fraud scheme, is scheduled to have his initial appearance today at 1:30 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis in Miami, Florida.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Amos Rojas, Jr., United States Marshal, United States Marshals Service (USMS), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
According to allegations contained in the court record, Casey, originally of Fort Lauderdale, and co-defendants Patricia S. Saa, of Tampa, Louis N. Gallo, III, of Parkland, and James C. Howard, III, of Parkland, defrauded individuals who invested in Commodities Online LLC (COL). From approximately January 2010 through April 2011, Casey and his co-conspirators allegedly used material false and fraudulent representations and material omissions to obtain over $20 million from over 700 investors.
Casey and his co-conspirators allegedly used COL to sell COL ownership units, subscriptions to the COL website, and investments in purported transactions to buy and sell commodities. After receiving the funds for the COL ownership units, Howard and Saa diverted a large part of those funds for other purposes. Shortly after that, Casey became President of COL and learned that substantial investor funds had been diverted and did not disclose it to investors. In addition to selling COL ownership units, Casey and his co-conspirators offered investors the opportunity to fund purported contracts to buy and sell commodities. Casey and his co-conspirators offered a pre-determined percentage return on investment. Casey and his co-conspirators represented to investors that COL had a track record of profits on these purported contracts. However, COL did not have profits.
Casey and his co-conspirators also allegedly made material misrepresentations and omissions about the leaders of COL. After mid-2010, Casey and his co-conspirators represented that Howard was no longer managing COL, when in fact, Howard remained in charge. Also, Casey and his co-conspirators did not disclose to investors that both Howard and co-defendant Gallo had previously been convicted of federal felonies, and that Gallo was still serving a term of supervised release.
On August 30, 2012, Casey was charged by indictment in Case No. 12-20630-Cr-Lenard, along with Howard, Saa, and Gallo, with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and several counts of mail and wire fraud. Howard, Saa, Gallo, and another defendant, Rita Balbirer, were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and various counts of money laundering.
In April of 2014, Casey failed to appear at a status hearing while pending trial. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest. In August of 2014, Casey was indicted for bond jumping in Case No. 14-20619-Cr-Moreno.
In September 2013, Howard, who was the founder of COL and had a prior criminal history that had not been disclosed to investors, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In December 2013, Howard was sentenced to 189 months in prison.
In August of 2014, Gallo, who was a leader in the scheme and had a prior criminal history that had not been disclosed to investors, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In October of 2014, Gallo was sentenced to 168 months in prison.
In July of 2014 Balbirer, an assistant to Gallo, pled guilty to two counts of money laundering. In September of 2015, Balbirer was sentenced to 17 months in prison.
In addition, other co-conspirators in the COL fraud scheme were charged separately with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In November 2013, three defendants pled guilty for their involvement in the scheme. In February 2015, Timothy Josselson was sentenced to 38 months in prison, in Case No. 13-20730-Cr-Altonaga. In February 2015, Kathryn Josselson was sentenced to 36 months in prison, in Case No. 13-20731-Cr-Moore. In March 2015, Robert Lananna was sentenced to 40 months in prison, in Case No. 13-20732-Cr-Ungaro.
Mr. Greenberg commends the investigative efforts of the FBI and USMS in this matter. Mr. Greenberg thanked the Mexican government for its assistance. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ana Maria Martinez and John Gonsoulin.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.