A Florida man who admitted impersonating the billionaire founder of a New York investment company to make money from phony investigations of ties to Jeffrey Epstein was sentenced to six years in prison.
(Bloomberg) — A Florida man who admitted impersonating the billionaire founder of a New York investment company to make money from phony investigations of ties to Jeffrey Epstein was sentenced to six years in prison.
Jonathan Ghertler made more than $1 million by convincing portfolio companies of two firms, which prosecutors haven’t identified, to fund fake probes into connections to the notorious financier, who killed himself in 2019 while facing sex trafficking charges.
Ghertler posed as the general counsel of an unidentified private equity firm and as the founder of an unnamed investment firm and caused their portfolio companies to collectively pay more than $1 million to fund the fictional investigations.
Prosecutors called Ghertler a “career fraudster” who has been convicted 16 times, including four federal wire fraud convictions. He began working on the Epstein fraud from a halfway house where he was completing his sentence for an earlier crime, they said.
He pleaded guilty in June to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. He faced a maximum of 25 years in prison.
Read More: Fake Epstein Probe Used in Alleged Scam of Investment Firms
Posing as the billionaire investment firm founder, the US claimed, Ghertler contacted the chief executive officer of one of the firm’s portfolio companies in May 2021, saying he needed the company to pay a private investigator who was examining his relationship with Epstein. The company then made more than $800,000 in payments to a person named “Edward Molina,” which were deposited in at least one account linked to Ghertler, prosecutors say.
Ghertler tried the same scam, unsuccessfully, on two other portfolio companies of the firm, according to the government.
In 2001 he was charged in New York with conning six of the largest US law firms into paying about $200,000 by posing as a partner with those firms, and was sentenced to 71 months in prison.
Ghertler, of Orlando, is also accused in the current case of posing as the chairman of a global law firm on calls with prosecutors and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and trying to get them to shut down their probe. Prosecutors say he tried to convince the FBI that no crime had been committed.
According to the US, he told them the company “had been defrauded in a scheme related to an investigation into the billionaire founder’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein, but chose not to reach out to law enforcement about the fraud” because the company had been “made whole” by the fraudster.
The case is US v. Ghertler, 23-cr-00100, US District Court, Middle District of Florida.
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