Fugitive Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Jumping Bond
Michael R. Casey, 71, who was apprehended in Mexico after being a fugitive for over four years, pled guilty on August 31, 2018 to knowingly failing to appear in court in 2014. United States District Judge Federico A. Moreno accepted the guilty plea in the bond jump matter, Case No. 14-20619-Cr-Moreno, and scheduled a sentencing hearing for November 15, 2018.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, 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), Southern District of Florida, made the announcement.
When Casey jumped bond, he was pending trial on federal charges related to an alleged $20 million investment fraud scheme. The investment fraud case is scheduled for trial before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore on October 29, 2018.
According to the court record, including facts agreed to by the defendant at the failure to appear plea hearing, Casey had been arrested and released on bond in September 2012 in United States v. James C. Howard, III, et al., Case No. 12-20630-Cr-Lenard (this matter is now pending before Judge Moore). Pursuant to bond conditions, the defendant’s travel was restricted to the Southern District of Florida, with the exception that he could travel to visit his mother in North Carolina with prior permission from the U.S. Probation Office.
During the course of the fraud case, U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard entered multiple Orders requiring Casey and his co-conspirators to be present at all hearings and conferences. Casey was present at status conferences from 2012 to 2014, including the one where the fraud trial was set for May of 2014. A further status conference was set for April 29, 2014.Casey received permission to travel, via car, to North Carolina and back to South Florida, prior to the April 29, 2014 status conference. On April 21, 2014, Casey rented a car in Tallahassee, Florida, drove over 2,000 miles, and returned the car on April 25, 2014 in Laredo, Texas, a city on the United States border with Mexico. On April 29, 2014, Judge Lenard held the status conference at the U.S. District Court in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Casey knowingly failed to appear at the hearing and Judge Lenard issued a bench warrant.
According to allegations contained in the court record of the fraud case, 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. 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, who had a prior federal criminal conviction, was no longer managing COL, when in fact, Howard remained in charge.
In September 2013, Howard 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, 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 thanks the Mexican government for its assistance with the defendant’s apprehension. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana Maria Martinez.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.