(As published in the Niagara Falls Reporter, Dec. 3 2015)
In the present case against Frank Parlato, it had been reported that the one million dollars the developer allegedly defrauded the Bronfman sisters out of was held by Parlato in escrow pending a resolution of a civil dispute.
As my readers know, I was an FBI Agent for three decades and I worked all types of violations of Title 18 US Code. That includes White Collar Crimes like mail fraud, wire fraud, Hobbs Act, advance fee schemes. You name it and I investigated it except for security type cases.
In 1977, I even worked on a special called the Fountain Conspiracy which was the biggest fraud case in FBI history up to 1977. In that case the bad guys, as an aside, scammed Elvis Presley’s jet from his father, just to strip it, which they did to the tune of millions of dollars.
The Fountain Conspiracy case makes any scam you can think of look like small potatoes. Hundreds of millions were scammed in the most elaborate advanced fee scheme you can imagine and NO one “escrowed” their crime proceeds…no one. I have to say that in the hundreds and hundreds of cases I worked over the years, from robbery to scams to kidnappings, I NEVER, EVER saw or heard of anyone putting their theft proceeds into a freaking escrow account. You see, thieves ALWAYS try to HIDE or spend their illicit proceeds never escrow them, in case they get caught! Think about that for a minute… a guy robs a bank and puts the money in an escrow account or scams a million and puts that into an escrow account…REALLY, in what world do you live in?
Someone who escrows alleged theft proceeds is not hiding anything and that goes a long way to destroying any criminal intent. And as to motive… most people steal because they need money?!Now that’s a very important point! You see without criminal intent there is NO CRIME! If the motive was to gain needed money, why didn’t it get spent? There may be a civil matter but not criminal!
Here’s a few more things of some interest; one of the scams in the Fountain Conspiracy involved taking control of a business, factory or office building that had valuable capital equipment. Say something like the “One Niagara Building” BEFORE Frank Parlato bought it. You know …when some businessmen, not Parlato, were going to build an aquarium.
In the cases I worked, the scammers took control of the property, stripped it of anything of value and then “walked away”. From what I saw when I examined the One Niagara Building after it was stripped and a hole dug but BEFORE Parlato bought it, it reminded me of that big case and couldn’t understand why the FBI was NOT investigating that deal! I even asked former COP and Mayor Galey about that, before Parlato bought it.
Parlato took what WAS once, the best piece of property in downtown Niagara Falls that was almost destroyed by the previous owners, and filled the hole and got it back on the tax rolls as a viable business again! The inside is still in need of repair but Parlato, and Paul Grenga both deserve a pat on the back for what they accomplished, instead of a knife in the back!
Understand, I write articles for Parlato’s paper and that’s it! He has NEVER discussed his case with me nor asked me for anything, not even my opinion on any of his matters nor a recommendation on attorney. I am my own man and so is he. Any of you who think otherwise may ask any of the numerous prosecutors, lawyers and judges I worked with for those three decades. That includes judges and friends Pete Broderick, and Matt Murphy, as well as Federal Judges Arcara, Skretny, and Scott and, coincidently, Dennis Vacco and Carol Heckman. I also worked with Bill Hochul and Tony Bruce and both are good prosecutors and good people. That’s why I think there may be outside pressure!
If Dennis Vacco and Carol Heckman went to bat for Parlato, Bill Hochul should reassess the facts and not make a big mistake.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know only what I read, just like you! I have no “inside” information, but I know the system and the players and I can say with CONFIDENCE that the escrowed money and Mr. Vacco and Ms. Heckman’s letters should be enough to wake up a very good attorney, prosecutor and unquestionably honest, Bill Hochul, even if being pressured!
He will have a better chance convicting a real criminal, like Tim Geithner, the former IRS Thief, (oops) I mean, IRS Chief.
That’s the way I see it!