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Press Release

Attorney Sentenced To 78 Months In Prison For Operating $18.8 Million Ponzi Scheme, Money Laundering, Obstruction Of Justice, And Perjury

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROBERT WISNICKI was sentenced to 78 months in prison today by U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe for operating an $18.8 million Ponzi scheme run through his New York-based law firms, Wisnicki & Associates LLP and Wisnicki Neuhauser LLP (the “Wisnicki Firms”), and a separate conspiracy to commit money laundering to conceal a healthcare fraud scheme.  WISNICKI pled guilty before Judge Gardephe to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering on September 18, 2023.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As an attorney, Robert Wisnicki was well aware that organizing a Ponzi scheme, laundering money for a healthcare fraud conspiracy, obstructing justice, and committing perjury would expose him to criminal charges and potentially land him in federal prison.  Wisnicki’s sprawling schemes showed his flagrant disregard for the law, and today’s sentence should make crystal clear to anyone who believes they are above the law that this Office will not waver in our commitment to hold all offenders accountable.”

According to public documents and statements made in court:

The Ponzi Scheme

The Wisnicki Firms specialized in real estate transactional work — namely, assisting clients with purchasing and selling property.  In or about 2007, WISNICKI began a real estate investment business using the Wisnicki Firms.  Existing clients of the Wisnicki Firms (“Investor Clients”) asked WISNICKI to identify potential real estate investment opportunities for them.  The Investor Clients then either transferred funds to WISNICKI or asked him to retain their funds that were already held in the Wisnicki Firms’ Interest Only Lawyers Accounts (“IOLA”) accounts.  WISNICKI then identified real estate investment opportunities for the Investor Clients, and the Wisnicki Firms represented the Investor Clients in the resulting investment transactions.

The Investor Clients began suffering losses in the investments that WISNICKI had arranged.  Rather than notify the Investor Clients of their losses, WISNICKI used funds from the Wisnicki Firms’ clients who did not participate in the real estate investments, which were held in trust in the firm’s IOLA accounts, and transferred those funds to the Investor Clients to mask their losses.  WISNICKI falsely represented to these other clients that their funds were still held in the Wisnicki Firms’ IOLA accounts when, in fact, he had transferred those funds to his Investor Clients.

WISNICKI also used funds from new Investor Clients to cover up losses suffered by prior Investor Clients.  WISNICKI falsely told the new Investor Clients that their funds would be invested in real estate when, in fact, he used those funds to repay his prior Investor Clients.

WISNICKI continued the above-described fraud through at least in or about 2022.  WISNICKI misappropriated approximately $18.8 million from Investor Clients, which includes approximately $6.3 million stolen from members of his own family and approximately $12.5 million stolen from non-family members.

The Money Laundering, Obstruction, and Perjury Scheme

WISNICKI engineered deceptive financial transactions, submitted fabricated documents, lied to investigators, and committed perjury in testimony before the grand jury all in an effort to conceal one of the largest no-fault insurance schemes in New York history.

New York and New Jersey no-fault insurance laws require a driver’s automobile insurance company to pay automobile insurance claims automatically for certain types of motor vehicle accidents, provided that the claim is legitimate and is below a particular monetary threshold (the “No-Fault Laws”).  Pursuant to these requirements, insurance companies will often pay medical service providers directly for the treatment they provide to automobile accident victims, without the need to bill the victims themselves.  This process resolves automobile claims without apportioning blame or fault for the accident, thereby avoiding protracted disputes and the costs associated with an extended investigation of the accident. 

Beginning in or about 2014, a criminal organization (the “Gulkarov Conspiracy” or the “Gulkarov Conspirators”) began a scheme to exploit the No-Fault Laws.  As part of the scheme, the Gulkarov Conspirators fraudulently owned and controlled more than a dozen medical professional corporations – including medical, acupuncture, and chiropractic practices – by paying licensed medical professionals to use their licenses to incorporate the professional corporations (collectively, the “Gulkarov Clinics”).  The Gulkarov Conspirators further defrauded automobile insurance companies by billing insurance companies for unnecessary, harmful, and excessive medical treatments, and lying under oath to insurance company representatives.

The Gulkarov Conspirators laundered the proceeds of the healthcare fraud through, among other ways, the Wisnicki Firms.  In or about 2016 and 2017, one of the Gulkarov Conspirators (“CC-1”) transferred funds from the Gulkarov Clinics to the Wisnicki Firms.  WISNICKI deposited the funds into one of his IOLA accounts, despite the fact that the Wisnicki Firms did not represent the Gulkarov Clinics and had no attorney-client relationship with the Gulkarov Conspirators.  The Gulkarov Conspirators then arranged for the Wisnicki Firms to use the healthcare fraud proceeds to pay for real estate on behalf of the leaders of the Gulkarov Conspiracy.

In or about April 2021, the Wisnicki Firms were served with a subpoena from a grand jury sitting in the Southern District of New York (the “Subpoena”).  Among other things, the Subpoena required the Wisnicki Firms to produce documentation concerning the funds obtained from the Gulkarov Clinics.

WISNICKI, CC-1, and a second member of the Gulkarov Conspiracy (“CC-2”) agreed to respond to the Subpoena by submitting fabricated documents to the grand jury, lying in communications with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and committing perjury before the grand jury. 

WISNICKI, CC-1, and CC-2 further agreed to re-launder the proceeds in response to the Subpoena.  At the direction of CC-1, WISNICKI wrote checks, drawn on his IOLA account, purporting to return the monies that had been previously paid to his firm.  The checks were made payable to physicians who purported to be owners of the Gulkarov Clinics and to family members of the Gulkarov Conspirators (together, the “Payees”).  WISNICKI wrote the checks under the false pretense that the Payees were clients of the Wisnicki Firms who had previously paid money to the Wisnicki Firms for legal services.  WISNICKI and others agreed that the checks to the Payees would be deposited, and the funds would then be withdrawn and returned to the Wisnicki Firms.  WISNICKI delivered the checks to CC-1 for this purpose.

Thereafter, on or about April 19, 2021, WISNICKI submitted to the grand jury over a dozen fabricated retainer agreements.  The same day, WISNICKI falsely stated to the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the funds paid to the Wisnicki Firms “were originally supposed to be used for a [sic] retainer fees, which is why the agreements were originally prepared,” but that the clients ultimately “instead asked us to hold the funds to be used for future investments.”  WISNICKI further represented that the Wisnicki Firms decided to return the retainer fees after receiving the Subpoena.

On or about July 6, 2021, WISNICKI was called to appear before the grand jury as custodian of records for the Wisnicki Firms.  WISNICKI falsely testified to the grand jury, among other things, that payments to the Wisnicki Firms had been made for the purpose of opening a “lending platform” that was never completed and that WISNICKI had not spoken to anyone outside of the Wisnicki Firms about the Subpoena.   

*                *                *

In addition to the prison term, ROBERT WISNICKI, 45, of Woodmere, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.  WISNICKI was also ordered to forfeit a money judgment of $19,010,548.06 and to pay $18,800,000 in restitution.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and the White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mathew Andrews, Timothy Capozzi, and Ryan W. Allison are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff
(212) 637-2600

Updated February 15, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-057