Disbarred Lawyer Ran a Ponzi, Investor Says
TACOMA, Wash. (CN) - A disbarred lawyer who was sentenced to federal prison for fraud assumed another attorney's identity and ran another Ponzi scheme out of a law office in another state, an investment company claims in court.
Private Reserve Financial sued Marino White O'Farrell & Gonzalez, JM International Commercial Consultants, Abraham Borenstein, and Abraham Borenstein & Associates, in Federal Court.
Private Reserve claims it lost $300,000 to the Ponzi scheme.
R. Mark Hunter aka John Joseph Mark Marino, who was convicted of mail fraud, disbarred, and then changed his name, is not named as an individual defendant, though he is a principal in the lead defendant law firm, according to the complaint.
In the 45-page lawsuit, Private Reserve claims "that John Joseph Mark Marino affirmatively concealed and intentionally withheld from disclosure from plaintiffs the material fact that Marino previously changed his name legally in 2005, from R. Mark Hunter to John Joseph Mark Marino, and immediately thereafter surreptitiously and fraudulent acquired the identity of a licensed attorney admitted to practice law in the State of New York named John Joseph Marino, admitted 1966, New York State Bar Number 1025360, and materially misrepresented himself as an attorney to plaintiffs and others. Plaintiff alleges that inasmuch as Marino is a disbarred attorney ineligible to engage in law practice as a matter of law, the representations, statements, solicitations, and/or assurances asserted by Marino are null and void as a matter of law.
"Plaintiff alleges that R. Mark Hunter was an attorney admitted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to engage in the active practice of law and subsequently disbarred by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleges that R. Mark Hunter was previously charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration in 2000 for committing federal mail fraud in connection with operating a Ponzi investment scheme. Plaintiff alleges that R. Mark Hunter was previously charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to four years incarceration in a Swiss penal institution for committing criminal offenses in connection with operating a Ponzi investment scheme."
Hunter aka Marino was arrested by the FBI in 2010 an indicted by a federal grand jury for engaging in "a scheme to defraud victims through a series of Ponzi investment trading programs that in fact did not exist," according to the complaint.
Private Reserve claims defendants guaranteed a full refund if the joint interest agreement failed.
"Said defendants promoted and touted Marino and Borenstein as experienced and knowledgeable of the mechanics the proposed trading program, and that Marino and Borenstein were internationally recognized as experts in this area. Plaintiffs' agent reasonably relied upon these representations in deciding to enter into the proposed trading program," the complaint states.
After two companies involved in the transaction, PT Global International Trade and Beverly Foundation, lost the $300,000 investment, Private Reserve says, it learned that the companies and Marino and his associates were all connected.
"JM ICCI, John Joseph Mark Marino, Marino Law Firm, Boren Law Group, Frank Marinaro, Abraham Borenstein, and Abraham Borenstein & Associates, LLC, generated, created, and controlled all aspects of the PT Global International Trade and Beverly Foundation transaction," according to the complaint.
It claims that Marino and his associates "failed and refused to initiate recovery efforts from PT Global International Trade and Beverly Foundation."
Private Reserve claims that each time it asked about its investment, Marino's employees "advised plaintiff to remain patient, that plaintiffs' monies would be rolled over into another trading program promising to pay significantly higher rates of return, and under no circumstances were plaintiffs to contact John Joseph Mark Marino due to Marino's alleged extremely busy overseas conferencing schedule."
Private Reserve claims that Marino even sent an email stating: "This is not and never was a Bernie Madoff or Scott Rothstein transaction."
Madoff and Rothstein both pleaded guilty to running giant Ponzi schemes.
Private Reserve wants its money back and damages for RICO fraud, common law fraud, malpractice and professional negligence.
It is represented by Dean Browning Webb of Vancouver, Wash.