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.
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.