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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lawyer to Serve Two Years for Defrauding Insurance Company

Leesburg lawyer to serve two years for defrauding insurance company
The Loudoun Times by Crystal Owens  -  February 24, 2012

A U.S. District judge on Friday sentenced a Leesburg lawyer to two years in prison for his role in carrying out a scheme with a Leesburg accountant to fraudulently obtain life insurance proceeds. Christopher Agresto, 36, pleaded guilty to the charge on Nov. 4, 2011.  According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Agresto, along with James Cilenti, 47, schemed a plot to obtain $500,000 from the life insurance policy of Cilenti’s late wife, Susan.  Cilenti was sentenced on Feb. 10 to more than five years in prison for his role in the scheme. According to court documents, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office had identified Cilenti as a person of interest after his wife was found dead in 2009 in their Leesburg home. As a result, the insurance company declined to pay Cilenti the proceeds of her life insurance policy, instead making his adopted daughter the beneficiary. 
Then, authorities say, Cilenti retained Agresto to create a trust for Cilenti’s adopted daughter, of which Agresto was a trustee.  Court documents show the men falsely represented to the insurance company that Cilenti would neither control, access or benefit from the account and the insurance company paid $507,000 to the trust.  Within a week Agresto wrote checks for $300,000 and $100,000 to Cilenti, records state, and he deposited them into his business account.  Agresto made out additional checks to Cilenti and made wire transfers from the account totaling $40,000 over the next five weeks, all of which went into the business account. Court records state Cilenti spent nearly all the funds from the trust account, “very little, if any of which, benefited his adopted daughter.”  The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the LCSO, the Social Security Administration of the Inspector General and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Micheal Rich prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.  Staff Writer Matt Vecchio contributed to this report.

-----FBI Press Release:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington Field Office (WFO)
U.S. Attorney's Office  -  Eastern District of Virginia  -  703-299-3700  -  February 24, 2012

Leesburg Attorney Sentenced to 24 Months for Defrauding Life Insurance Company

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Christopher Agresto, 36, of Leesburg, Va., was sentenced today to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for carrying out a scheme to fraudulently obtain life insurance proceeds.  Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Michael L. Chapman, Loudoun County Sheriff, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Liam O’Grady. Agresto pled guilty on Nov. 4, 2011.  According to court records, in 2009, Susan Cilenti was found dead under suspicious circumstances in the Leesburg home she shared with her husband, James Cilenti. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office opened a death investigation and James Cilenti was named a “person of interest.” As a result, USAA, which had issued a $500,000 life insurance policy on the life of the late Mrs. Cilenti, declined to pay Cilenti, who was the primary beneficiary of Mrs. Cilenti’s life insurance policy. Cilenti obtained the services of Christopher Agresto, a Leesburg attorney, and together they devised a scheme to induce USAA, through materially false representations, to pay the insurance proceeds to a trust they created. The trust was ostensibly for the benefit of Cilenti’s adopted daughter, who was the contingent beneficiary under the policy. Based on Agresto’s false representations, which included that the funds would be spent only on the adopted daughter’s behalf, USAA wired $507,000 to the trust account. Agresto wrote more than $450,000 in checks and wire transfers to Cilenti, which Cilenti used for his own benefit, not his adopted daughter’s. Cilenti was sentenced on Feb. 10, 2012, to 64 months in prison. This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Michael Rich prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.  A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia athttp://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.
-----Background Story:

Leesburg attorney, accountant plead guilty to fraud scheme
The Loudoun Times by Matt Vecchio  -  November 7, 2011

Two Leesburg men have pleaded guilty to carrying out a fraud scheme to obtain more than $500,000 in life insurance proceeds.  Accountant James C. Cilenti, 47, and lawyer Christopher Agresto, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a charge with a 20-year maximum prison term. Cilenti also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two-year sentence.  The pleas were heard by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady and announced by United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and the FBI’s James W. McJunkin.  According to court documents, the duo tried to defraud a Texas-based company out of the $500,000 life insurance policy of Cilenti’s late wife.  The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office had identified Cilenti as a person of interest in his wife’s death, so the insurance company had declined to pay him the proceeds, making his adopted daughter the beneficiary.  Then, authorities say, Cilenti retained Agresto, an attorney, to create a trust for Cilenti’s adopted daughter on which Agresto was trustee.  Court documents indicate that the men falsely represented to the insurance company that Cilenti would neither control, access or benefit from the account and the insurance company paid the $507,000 to the trust.  Within a week, Agresto wrote checks for $300,000 and $100,000 to Cilenti, records state, and he deposited them into his business account.  Agresto made out additional checks to Cilenti and made wire transfers from the account totaling $40,000 over the next five weeks, all of which went into the business account.  Court records state Cilenti spent nearly all the funds from the trust account, “very litte, if any of which, benefitted his adopted daughter.”  But Cilenti also applied for Social Security survivor benefits on his adopted daughter’s behalf, using her social security number and forging her signature without her knowledge. Court records indicate Celenti benefitted approximately $7,600 in survivor payments, the groundwork for the aggravated identity theft charge.  A bevy or organizations contributed to the investigation, including the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Commonwealth Attoney’s Office and the Social Security Administration.  Cilenti was initially arrested in May 2010 on embezzlement, fraud and money laundering charges.

-----Background Story:

Leesburg solo admits to conspiracy in insurance fraud
The Virginia Lawyers Weekly by Peter Vieth  -  November 7, 2011

Leesburg lawyer Christopher J. Agresto has acknowledged in court his role in a scheme to help a man pocket insurance proceeds from his wife’s death, even though the man was deemed a “person of interest” in the death.  According to authorities, James Cilenti of Leesburg was barred from receiving $500,000 in life insurance proceeds because he was under investigation in his wife’s death. Agresto was accused of helping Cilenti get around that prohibition by creating a trust supposedly for the benefit of Cilenti’s adopted daughter.  Instead of using the trust to help the daughter, authorities said, Agresto promptly paid out $400,000 to Cilenti. More money followed, all of it headed for Cilenti’s business account, not for the daughter.  Agresto and Cilenti both pleaded guilty last week to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum 20-year term, according to the Loudoun Times.  Agresto was disciplined by the Virginia State Bar in 2009 with a public reprimand with terms for transgressions involving diligence and safekeeping of client money. He remains in good standing with the VSB.  Oddly, Agresto’s website bio indicates his 1993 law degree comes from the “University of Leesburg, The T.C. Williams School of Law, Leesburg, Virginia.”  The T.C. Williams School of Law is at the University of Richmond. There is no law school in Leesburg.

3 comments:

undecided said...

At first I thought the lawyer was duped by his client. But then he pleads guilty to conspiring in ripping off the insurance company. I'm wondering if a non-attorney would get more time.

Anonymous said...

Only 24 months until the VSB can welcome him back after he repents and promises to be good. If the VSB doesn't accept his contrition, the NY Bar will be more forgiving as showed great care to enrich his client.

Anonymous said...

What a dope. He forgot to grease the right wheels. Just like in the mob, you have to pay "homage" to your fellow brothers and sisters in the legal community. Live and learn. He'll pay next time.

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2