U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of New York
(315) 448-0672
July 24, 2015

Investment Fund President Indicted for Fraud and Money Laundering

SYRACUSE, NY—A Cazenovia, NY man was arrested yesterday on charges of fraud and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and FBI Special Agent In Charge Andrew Vale.

As alleged in the Indictment, James P. Griffin, 70, of Cazenovia is the Chief Executive Officer of several investment companies in Cazenovia, which marketed a financial product called the 54 Freedom Charitable Gift Annuity. This financial product purportedly allowed investors to make a gift to charity and still receive income. The 54 Freedom Charitable Gift Annuity was represented to be backed by a highly rated major insurance carrier and would provide guaranteed life-time income for the investor. The Indictment alleges that over $1.6 million invested by clients were not used to purchase annuities from A rated insurance companies, but instead were used by Griffin for his own use and to pay the expenses of various companies he headed. The investors initially received monthly payments as promised, but these regular payments are alleged to have stopped in approximately January 2013.

Griffin was arrested yesterday and appeared for arraignment in federal court in Syracuse. He pled not guilty to the charges, which include five counts of mail fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, and five counts of money laundering. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years on each of the mail and wire fraud counts and ten years on the money laundering counts. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward R. Broton.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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