Wednesday, April 20, 2011

South Florida Trustee To Plead Guilty To $16M Fraud

Longtime South Florida bankruptcy trustee Marika Tolz will plead guilty to federal charges that she misappropriated more than $16 million from cases she was overseeing and lost — or possibly pocketed — at least $2.4 million, her attorneys said Tuesday.

Tolz will cop to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on May 5, admitting she wrote unauthorized checks from bankruptcy accounts to enrich herself and cover money misappropriated from other accounts, according to her attorneys.

Tolz expects to repay $2.4 million to parties involved in the cases she handled, according to co-counsel Benedict P. Kuehne.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer said in a statement. "Robbing from one client to pay another is no way to do business, and will surely end in criminal prosecution and incarceration."

Tolz is the second South Florida trustee charged with fraud in as many years. Lewis B. Freeman, formerly of Lewis B. Freeman & Partners Inc., was sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence in July for allegedly stealing more than $2.6 million.

The case is USA v. Tolz, case number 1:11-cr-20160, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The state case is the State of Florida v. Marika Tolz in the 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida. A case number was not immediately available.