On March 1, 2012 a federal grand jury indicted Patrick J. Belzner, a/k/a “Patrick McCloskey,” of Glen Arm, Maryland fo conspiring to commit wire fraud arising from an investment fraud scheme.

The indictment alleges that in order to gain their victims’ confidence, Belzner and his co-conspirators caused victim investors and borrowers to enter into escrow agreements which stated that no person other than the victims had the ability to remove the escrowed funds without the victims’ permission. Belzner told the victims that a co-conspirator had to be the attorney assigned as the escrow agent.

The indictment alleges that Belzner and his co-conspirator fraudulently withdrew approximately $14,730,780 from the escrow accounts and used these stolen funds to satisfy their business and personal debts. To conceal their scheme, Belzner and his co-conspirators allegedly: emailed fabricated bank statements to victims that misrepresented the escrow account balance and the date by when the investors’ money would be returned. Belzner and his co-conspirators also used funds fraudulently obtained from some victim investors to repay money owed to previous victim investors, or to other individuals to whom the conspirators owed debts.

Belzner faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the gain or loss. The indictment further seeks forfeiture of at least $14,730,780, the amount of money stolen from victim investors.

Belzner’s alleged co-conspirators are not named in the indictment. According to the indictment Bezner’s co-conspirators included a home builder from Baltimore, Maryland, an attorney licensed to practice in Maryland, a senior underwriter from Newport Beach, California, and an attorney licensed to practice in California. The government may still be building its case against the other co-conspirators, offering the defendant the opportunity to cooperate with investigators. However, since the indictment was recently unsealed, there is a good chance that the other co-conspirators were actually involved in the investigation into Belzner.

Co-conspirators make for interesting government witnesses. These “insider” witnesses provide the government with invaluable insight into the inner workings of the alleged crime. However, due to a co-conspirator’s own precarious position as a criminally liable person, defense counsel is afforded the opportunity to seriously call into question the reliability, veracity, and character of such witnesses.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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