Bankruptcy Trustee and State Court Receiver Sentenced in $16 Million Wire Fraud Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 27, 2011|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Donald F. Walton, United States Trustee for Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Region 21) announced today’s sentencing of defendant Marika Tolz, 65, of Hollywood, Florida, on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Tolz to 81 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 18 months of home confinement.
For more than 20 years, Marika Tolz had been a member of the panel of Chapter 7 trustees, who are private individuals appointed by the U.S. Trustee in bankruptcy cases in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida. As a trustee, Tolz was required to collect property of bankruptcy estates and convert the property to cash. Among other duties, she was required to safeguard these assets, keep detailed and accurate financial records of funds received and disbursed, and make reports of activities occurring in administration of the estates.
According to the factual proffer read into the record during Tolz’s guilty plea and accepted by Tolz, beginning around March 24, 2003, through May 20, 2010, Tolz and others conspired to misappropriate money from bankruptcy estates, receiverships, and other matters in which Tolz had been appointed as trustee, receiver, or personal representative, by writing or causing the writing of unauthorized checks from various fiduciary accounts which contained funds she was appointed to safeguard, without authority or legal justification. The defendant and her co-conspirators then used the misappropriated money for her own benefit, and to conceal her previous misappropriations by using the money to restore the balance of other fiduciary accounts from which she had previously taken funds. Reports required by Tolz’s appointments were falsified so that they would not reflect these misappropriations and unauthorized disbursements. These false reports were electronically filed.
In one of several specified transactions on May 20, 2010, Tolz caused a $1,000,000 wire transfer from the Bank of America trust account of Buchanan, Ingersol and Rooney PC, into the Sun American Bank Marika Tolz General Trust Account, which funds had been earmarked as forfeiture proceeds for the U.S. Marshals Service in United States v. Scott Rothstein, Case No. 09-60331-CR-JIC (Cohn). The funds were instead used to satisfy a previously issued $967,856 check and replace monies misappropriated from the Driscoll bankruptcy estate by Tolz.
In this way, Tolz misappropriated at least $16 million from numerous matters to which she had been appointed fiduciary, resulting in approximately $2.4 million in losses to affected fiduciary matters.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Too often, individuals abuse their fiduciary positions to steal from those whom they should be representing and whose interests they should be promoting. When one is motivated by greed instead of by one’s desire to do what is right, the result is predictable: the inevitable collapse of the Ponzi scheme, followed by years in prison.”
“Today’s sentencing is a stern warning to those who abuse their position of public trust for personal gain,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “Marika Tolz breached her fiduciary responsibility and misappropriated at least $16 million; she must now pay the price for her crimes.”
“A bankruptcy trustee’s breach of fiduciary responsibilities undermines the integrity of the bankruptcy system in addition to harming the parties in the case,” stated Donald F. Walton, United States Trustee for Region 21. “The prosecution of former trustee Marika Tolz demonstrates that such conduct is a serious crime that will be pursued and punished.”
U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also commended the assistance and cooperation of the United States Trustee Program, a component of the United States Department of Justice, which referred the matter and assisted in the investigation. The U.S. Trustee Program is charged with protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system by overseeing case administration and litigating to enforce the bankruptcy laws. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luis M. Pérez and Evelyn Sheehan.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.