Feds liquidate retirement fund of Quincy crook who defrauded investors
BOSTON — Federal authorities have liquidated the retirement account of a former lawyer and real estate agent who defrauded 24 investors out of nearly $2 million through real estate schemes in Quincy.
The scammer, Scott Wolas, contributed to the account until 1997 when he was a lawyer in New York. He is worth $884,755. The account was worth $647,000 in 1997 when Wolas stopped contributing to it.
The money will be distributed to victims of the Wolas fraud, prosecutors said in court documents filed Thursday.
The retirement account is the only asset Wolas had that federal authorities could find. In a deposition, a prosecutor asked him if he buried some of his money or hid it in a safe.
Wolas pleaded guilty in June 2018 to seven counts of wire fraud and one count each of aggravated identity theft, misuse of a social security number and tax evasion. In January 2019, Federal Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV sentenced him to six years and nine months in prison.
Wolas took $1.9 million from Quincy investors to develop the Beachcomber and an adjacent home, promising extravagant returns, but instead used the money for himself, according to court documents.
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Saylor ordered in February 2021 that the retirement account be turned over to the federal government to pay restitution after Wolas and his ex-wife, Cecily Sturge, of Delray Beach, Florida, tried to have a court of Florida gave him the account in 2017, according to court documents. She tried to pretend Wolas was dead, even though she met him and spoke to him regularly on the phone, Saylor said in her judgment.
Sturge then appealed Saylor’s order to give the pension account to the government to make restitution. In November 2021, an appeals court dismissed her appeal because she never filed a brief, which later allowed the government to liquidate the account, according to court documents.
Sturge pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a federal agent for lying to federal investigators about Wolas’ whereabouts and was sentenced in May 2018 to one year of probation.
The long con from New York to Quincy
Wolas left New York in 1997 after a fraudulent liquor export business collapsed. He had solicited $100 million from investors for the project. Federal prosecutors in New York have charged him with 119 counts related to the case. Federal prosecutors have agreed not to seek additional charges against Wolas, who has carried out similar projects in several states. The New York indictments do not appear in federal court records online.
Wolas moved to Quincy in 2009. Under the name Eugene Grathwohl, Wolas operated a real estate business known as Augmentation Fortune Inc. and worked as a licensed realtor for Century 21.
From 2014 to 2016, he solicited investment for the development of the former Beachcomber nightclub property on Quincy Shore Drive and for the construction of a single-family home on the neighboring property.
In 2015, Wolas reached a deal to buy the Beachcomber property for $1.4 million, but as the closing date approached and Wolas didn’t have the cash to back the sale, he pushed back the date. closing 11 times over the next year, paying $450,000 in penalties and raising the cost of ownership to $1.85 million.
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He raised more than $1.9 million from at least 24 investors and promised each of them a significant return on investment.
The people he convinced to invest in the property began digging into his past after he fled to Florida in 2016.
Wolas is serving his sentence at Fort Dix low-security prison at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Federal law requires inmates to serve at least 85% of a sentence before being released, which in Wolas’ case is just over 5½ years.
The city demolished the Beachcomber nightclub in March 2021 after buying the property in 2020. It had closed in 2015.
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Contact reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Authorities seize Quincy crook’s $884,000 retirement account to pay victims