Attorney Anthony Livoti Jr. Convicted Of Fraud

, Daily Business Review

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While the unscrupulous sibling founders of the Mutual Benefits Corp. viatical company raked in tens of millions of dollars, Fort Lauderdale attorney Anthony Livoti Jr. was paid $860,000 to be the face of the company to investors.

Now he faces a possible life prison sentence after a jury found him guilty Wednesday of money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud in the $830 million Ponzi scheme, which collapsed in 2006.

Defense attorney Joel Hirschhorn confirmed prosecutors offered Livoti a plea deal before trial in which he would admit to misprision of felony and serve three years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer noted the conviction brought an unscrupulous attorney to justice.

“For nearly ten years, Anthony Livoti, Jr. used the prestige of his law license to further this massive multimillion-dollar fraud scheme,” Ferrer said. “It is outrageous that an attorney would prey on investors by promising them their money was safe and secure when in reality he was misappropriating their funds.”

Livoti was a company trustee but said he was unaware of any financial shenanigans.

Fort Lauderdale-based Mutual Benefits’ business model ran into problems when many policyholders outlived their life expectancies with help from breakthroughs in the treatment of HIV and AIDS.

Livoti, stoic throughout the reading of the verdict, was remanded to custody by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola in Miami. Sentencing is set for Feb. 21, and Scola noted the advisory guidelines call for a severe term.

Two clients of Livoti’s showed up in court right after the verdict was read. They didn’t want to give their names, but one said, “They are going to bury him.”

The verdict came after eight days of intermittent deliberations that started Nov. 20. The jury asked about their scheduling Thursday before announcing they had reached a verdict Wednesday morning.

‘Crushed’

Defense attorney Joel Hirschhorn, a partner at GrayRobinson in Coral Gables, said he had never seen a jury take so long on a single defendant. “It’s like the lone holdout caved,” he said of the jury.

Hirschhorn speculated the jury split into two factions on his client’s guilt. Livoti, whose law license is still active, has dozens of pending cases, including more than 30 for the Fraternal Order of Police.

“Am I disappointed? I’m crushed,” Hirschhorn said.

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