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Ponzi Defendant Accused of Duping|Autistic Man & Family of $2 Million

(CN) - A man charged in California with running a Ponzi scheme has been sued again, in Cook County, accused of forging a signature to take $2 million from an autistic man and his family. "Defendant John Terzakis was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Jose, California, on Dec. 30, 2009," accused of running a real estate-based Ponzi scheme, according to the new complaint in Chicago.

Joseph Ventrella, trustee of the Berenice Ventrella Revocable Trust, claims Terzakis forged Berenice Ventrella's signature, to "designate Nicholas Ventrella as the successor trustee".

Nicholas is the autistic son of Angelo and Berenice Ventrella, and "has never been and is not now the bona fide Trustee of the Revocable Trust," according to the complaint. Berenice Ventrella died in 2008. "Nicholas Ventrella has been mentally disabled his entire life," the trustee says. "Due to his disability, he is easily manipulated and is not rational in his thought."

The trustee claims that "in late 2008 and after his alleged Ponzi scheme was collapsing, John Terzakis applied for a loan in excess of $2 million from Parkway Bank & Trust," and got the loan in February 2009.

Parkway also is named as a defendant. Terzakis "has been a customer at Parkway Bank & Trust for over 25 years" and "had borrowed, or guaranteed, over $40 million from Parkway Bank & Trust" by 2009, according to the complaint.

The trustee claims that Terzakis, and/or others working with him, "duped, misled, and unduly influenced Nicholas Ventrella into executing certain instruments (if not forged) relating to the February 2009 loan," and got Nicholas to sign, or forged his signature "on certain instruments relating to the February 2009 loan. ...

"Nicholas Ventrella did not and could not understand the meaning or effect of the instruments he signed (if they were not forged) for the February 2009 loan," according to the complaint. (Parentheses in complaint.)

The February 2009 loan allegedly involved a property or properties in Glenview, Ill.

Terzakis allegedly got his hands on that money.

The trustee says Terzakis also has been sued over "another fraudulent loan transaction" involving property in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

The trustee seeks damages for forgery and fraud, from Terzakis, and declaratory judgment against the bank, freeing the plaintiffs from liability under the Note, Commercial Security Agreements or Collateral Assignment of Beneficial Interest signed by Nicholas Ventrella.

Plaintiffs are represented in Cook County Chancery Court by Eric Sparks with Gould & Ratner.

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