Former California Attorney Pleads Guilty in International Investment Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON—A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy for his role in an investment fraud scheme that promoted fraudulent investment opportunities and caused more than $5 million in losses to investors.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Laura A. Bucheit of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.
Joseph Micelli, 62, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson of the District of Nevada to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23, 2016.
As part of his plea, Micelli admitted that he conspired with others in the United States and Switzerland to promote investments and loan instruments that he knew to be fraudulent. The conspirators told victims that, for an up-front payment, a Swiss company known as the Malom Group A.G. would provide access to lucrative investment opportunities and substantial cash loans. In connection with his plea, Micelli admitted that he held himself out to investors as an attorney, when in fact he had lost his license to practice law. In addition, as part of an effort to defraud an investor who held an equity stake in a corporation that had filed for bankruptcy, Micelli submitted a sworn affidavit to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire, in which he made false statements about the Malom Group’s ability to provide financing to the debtors.
Five other defendants have been charged in the case and are awaiting trial or extradition.
The FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office investigated this case. Assistant Chief Brian R. Young and Trial Attorneys Melissa Aoyagi and Anna G. Kaminska of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted this case with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, which referred the matter to the Department of Justice and is conducting a parallel civil enforcement investigation, also provided valuable assistance.
Today’s conviction is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.