URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: ALLEGED ‘PUPPETMASTERS’ EXPOSED: Feds Charge 5 Attorneys, 2 Mob Figures And CPA In Extortion Scheme That Led To ‘Illegal Takeover’ Of FirstPlus Financial Group Inc.; Scheme Featured ‘Fraudulent SEC Filings,’ U.S. Attorney Says
URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: Thirteen people have been arrested, including five attorneys, a CPA, two alleged mob associates and others in a spectacular case that alleges the mafia and its underlings illegally took over FirstPlus Financial Group Inc., a publicly held company in Texas.
“[T]he defendants gave new meaning to ‘corporate takeover’ by looting a publicly traded company to benefit their criminal enterprise,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey.
Charged were attorneys William Maxwell, Cory Leshner, David Adler, Gary McCarthy and Donald Manno. Their ages and addresses were not immediately clear. Howard Drossner, whom federal prosecutors described as a CPA, also was charged.
Nicodemo S. Scarfo, an alleged member of La Cosa Nostra and the Lucchese organized crime family, also was charged, as was Salvatore Pelullo, an alleged LCN and Lucchese family associate.
“Through rampant self dealing, fraudulent SEC filings and more traditional mob methods, the defendants allegedly stole $12 million from shareholders,” Fishman said. “Particularly in these economic times, investors should be free to invest in public companies without fear that violent criminal organizations are their puppetmasters. And the public deserves to rely with confidence on corporate officials and professionals whose positions require them to act in the best interest of shareholders, not members of organized crime.”
“The indictment alleges that Mr. Scarfo and Mr. Pelullo used economic extortion and threats of violence to seize and maintain control of a publicly traded company, successfully removing its entire existing board of directors and management,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “Once in control, they allegedly used their criminal enterprise to extract millions of dollars from the company to fund their lavish lifestyles.”
Breuer is head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Read the Feds’ news release for other names and details.