Real Estate Ponzi Scheme Lands Man in Jail

Allison Tussey —  September 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

Joseph Angelo Sivigliano, 80, Oklahoma City, was sentenced by United States District Judge David L. Russell to serve 96 months in prison for conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with a real estate investment Ponzi scheme.  Judge Russell also ordered Sivigliano to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term and pay restitution in the amount of $2,214,577.25.

Sivigliano was indicted on October 4, 2011. Following a trial in April 2012, the jury deliberated less than three hours before finding Sivigliano guilty on all 46 counts. 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 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.

Both of Sivigliano‘s co-conspirators, Dwight Pimson, 57, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Venus Marie Pimson, 43, Yukon, Oklahoma, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on November 4, 2011. The Pimsons each testified against Sivigliano at trial. On July 25, 2012, Dwight Pimson was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,279,277.25. On July 25, 2012, Venus Pimson was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,778,177.25.

Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, announced the sentence.

These cases were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Dickerson Cox and Travis Smith

Allison Tussey

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