Jury Finds City Man Guilty of Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering in Real Estate Investment Ponzi Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 16, 2012|
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—A federal jury has found Joseph Angelo Sivigliano, 79, of Oklahoma City, guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with a real estate investment Ponzi scheme, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
Evidence at trial showed that beginning in 2005, Sivigliano did business selling “investment opportunities” as Helping Hearts and Hands Inc. (HHH) in Bethany, Oklahoma. Sivigliano held HHH out to investors as a legitimate 501(c)(3) charitable organization engaged in real estate investments to benefit philanthropic ventures such as its Christian childcare facility Teaching Little Hearts and Hands. However, Sivigliano was not a registered investment advisor or broker-dealer in the state of Oklahoma and HHH was not registered as a licensed securities firm or otherwise authorized to sell securities in the state of Oklahoma. Evidence showed that Sivigliano also owned and operated other businesses, including Celebrity Limo and Valet Corporation (Celebrity Limo) and MC Productions Inc. (MCP), both in Oklahoma City, and Sivigliano’s daughter and grandson owned and operated Lansbrook Worship & Event Center (Lansbrook WEC) in Oklahoma City.
Evidence showed that from February 2005 through August of 2007, Sivigliano solicited approximately 21 Oklahoma investors and 46 out-of-state investors to invest approximately $3.8 million in the HHH real estate investment scheme.
Sivigliano used the investor funds in a Ponzi scheme to pay return on investment to earlier investors and to support himself, his associates, and his own businesses (i.e., Celebrity Limo, MCP, and Lansbrook WEC). Investors lost approximately $1.7 million.
Sivigliano was indicted on October 4, 2011. The jury deliberated less than three hours before finding him guilty on all 46 counts. At sentencing, Sivigliano faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. A sentencing date will be set by the court in approximately 90 days.
Both of Sivigliano’s co-conspirators, Dwight Pimson, 57, of Shreveport, Louisiana; and Venus Marie Pimson, 43, of Yukon, Oklahoma, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on November 4, 2011. The Pimsons each testified against Sivigliano at trial and each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date will be set by the court in approximately 90 days.
These charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Dickerson Cox and Travis Smith.