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Tampa Bay lawyer gets 10 years for international investment scheme

TAMPA — A Tampa Bay area lawyer who helped perpetrate a multimillion-dollar investment fraud has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Lawrence S. Hartman was the last of several defendants to be sentenced in the case, which began in 2009. He pleaded guilty in November before U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and was sentenced Tuesday.

Hartman, 48, helped orchestrate a scheme involving the sale of worthless stock in defunct corporations to investors.

Paul Robert Gunter of Odessa and Simon Andrew Odoni, originally from the United Kingdom, led a team that hijacked the identities of 54 publicly traded companies and sold bogus stocks to mostly retired and semi-retired investors in Ireland and the United Kingdom, prosecutors said.

Victims received unsolicited phone calls from people offering to sell shares in companies with little to no risk, "almost guaranteed to increase significantly," court documents said.

Authorities said the calls appeared to be made from "boiler rooms" based in Spain, which were linked to Gunter after investigators reviewed his laptop and computer software.

The victim investors wired more than $127 million to Gunter's bank accounts, which Hartman and others used for their enrichment, prosecutors said.

Hartman was arrested and deported from Nicaragua in May.

In addition to his prison sentence, Hartman was ordered to forfeit his interest in his residence in Costa Rica, a parcel of land in Pasco County, several offshore entities, several foreign and domestic bank accounts, a 2009 Jaguar XKR and a 2010 Genesis LX150ST‑3, three luxury watches and more than $129,500 from the sale of a condominium. The court also imposed a judgment of $42.5 million.

Gunter and Odoni were convicted of multiple criminal offenses last year following a 19‑day jury trial. In July, Gunter was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. Odoni was sentenced to 13 years and three months.

Tampa Bay lawyer gets 10 years for international investment scheme 04/02/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 7:55pm]
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