Thursday, November 30, 2023

St. Petersburg man sentenced to ten years in prison for investment scheme

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Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber has sentenced Thomas Coelho (53, St. Petersburg) to 10 years in federal prison for wire fraud. As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $1.8 million, the proceeds of the wire fraud scheme. Coelho had pleaded guilty on March 24, 2022.

According to court documents, Coelho recruited investors for a business opportunity that purportedly involved Coelho using investor funds to purchase event tickets and then resell those tickets to third parties at a profit. Coelho, who held himself out to be a lawyer and a Wharton School of Business graduate, used his association with persons and entities in the entertainment industry to give the appearance of the means and ability to acquire tickets to certain high-profile events (which could then be resold). Instead of using investors’ money to further the purported business, however, Coelho primarily used the funds for personal expenses, entertainment, and cash withdrawals. Coelho created fraudulent documents, including wire transfer receipts, to convince his victims the funds were properly invested and to continue to induce new victim investments. During the course of the scheme, Coelho defrauded three victims out of a total of more than $1.8 million.

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At the time of his arrest, Coelho, formerly known as Thomas Jurewitz, had been arrested more than 15 times for fraud-related incidents. He had three outstanding arrest warrants, dating back 20 years, under his prior name. He also faced several civil judgments, largely from failed business ventures.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Jones.

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