Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Martin Frankel: Sex, Greed and $200 Million Fraud

Paying the Piper


Martin Frankel, fugitive financier
Martin Frankel,
fugitive financier

On May 16, 2002, Martin Frankel pleaded guilty  to 24 federal corruption charges. His original indictment stipulated 36 counts. Associated Press reports prosecutors as saying that if Frankel helps recover some of the money, they would consider less than the maximum sentence that he faces — 150 years in prison and $6.5 million in fines. Frankel owes $208 million.

Roman Catholic monsignor Emilio Colagiovanni, an elderly lawyer with Vatican connections, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Associated Press says, "Under an agreement with the prosecution, Colagiovanni is being kept in the United States and is living with a cousin in Ohio. The Vatican has denied involvement in the scheme." However, the federal lawsuit filed in early May of 2002 claims that both the monsignor and the Vatican are guilty of fraud and racketeering. Several other Frankel colleagues are also mentioned in the May indictment: Sonia Howe, Mona Kim and Gary Atnip, as well as a German woman.

Martin Frankel in custody
Martin Frankel in custody

On September 6, 2002, Monsignor Colagiovanni, 82, pleaded guilty to participating in Frankel's global insurance scam. The church law expert, who allegedly had at one time offered legal advice to popes, is not expected to receive the five year sentence for his crimes.

Monday, October 28, 2002, The Wall St. Journal's Ellen Joan Pollock, who authored the recent book on Frankel entitled The Pretender, reported that Sonia Howe, Frankel's girlfriend and longtime friend "pleaded guilty to two felony counts in federal court in New Haven, Conn., and admitted to participating in his scheme to defraud a string of Southern insurance companies out of more than $200 million." The former Mrs. John Schulte also pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering.

Her plea included admission that she helped Frankel set up the trust to buy the insurance companies and to buy a brokerage company which was instrumental to the scam. Also, she admitted to generating bogus accounting records and brokerage statements.

Sonia Howe, Frankel's girlfriend
Sonia Howe,
Frankel's girlfriend

It looks like all the major players are now getting their due. Frankel, Howe, Colagiovanni and five others have pleaded guilty and two more of Frankel's associates are scheduled to go to trial in 2003.

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