Ed Okun and Co-Conspirators Lara Coleman and Richard Simring Charged in New Indictments

Edward H. Okun of Miami, Fla., and Lara Coleman, of Richmond, Va., were charged in superseding indictments on July 11, 2008, with conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges.

The indictments stem from a scheme to defraud and obtain millions of dollars in client funds held by The 1031 Tax Group LLP (1031TG), a 1031 exchange qualified intermediary scam operated by Okun.

On July 10, 2008, a federal grand jury in Richmond, Va., returned a 27 count superseding indictment charging Okun and Coleman with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, 13 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, seven counts of money laundering, one count of bulk cash smuggling and forfeiture. Okun is also charged with one count of making false statements.

The original indictment, returned on March 17, 2008, charged only Okun with mail fraud, bulk cash smuggling and making false statements. Okun’s initial appearance was held March 18, 2008, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and Coleman’s initial appearance was held Monday, July 14, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to the indictment, from August 2005 through April 2007, Okun and Coleman used 1031TG and its subsidiaries, all owned by Okun, in a scheme to defraud clients of millions of dollars through false pretenses. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows investment property owners to defer the capital gains tax that would otherwise be due on properties sold, if the proceeds are used to purchase new property in a specified time frame. To facilitate such exchanges, investment property owners deposit the proceeds from the sale of their property with qualified intermediaries and sign exchange agreements, which include various promises by the qualified intermediaries to clients regarding the safekeeping and use of exchange funds.

Specifically, the indictment alleges that 1031TG obtained funds by promising clients that their money would be used solely for 1031 exchanges as outlined in the exchange agreements. After making such promises, Okun and Coleman allegedly misappropriated approximately $132 million in client funds to support Okun’s lavish lifestyle, pay operating expenses for his various companies, invest in commercial real estate, and purchase additional qualified intermediary companies to obtain access to additional client funds.

The indictment also alleges that Okun and Coleman instructed employees to withdraw $15,000 in cash from Investment Properties of America’s (IPofA) bank account, a company owned by Okun, and smuggle the cash to Okun’s personal yacht on Paradise Island in the Bahamas to avoid federal currency reporting requirements.

The indictment further alleges that Okun made material false statements under oath before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia relating to conversations he had with the chief legal officer of IPofA.

The charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, and mail fraud each carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The charges of money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, and false declaration carry a five-year maximum prison sentence. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of all funds and assets owned by Okun and Coleman that were derived from or connected to the misappropriation of approximately $132 million in funds held by 1031TG and all funds and assets traceable to the $15,000 in cash Okun instructed to be smuggled to his yacht in the Bahamas.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Michael S. Dry and Trial Attorney Brigham Q. Cannon of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The continuing investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.

You can read the indictment at United States vs. Edward Okun and Lara Coleman (PDF)

In addition, Okun’s former attorney, Richard B. Simring, who had been the Chief Legal Officer for Okun  Holdings, Inc., was indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia on charges of conspiracy to committ mail fraud and money laundering as part of Okun’s schemes.

You can read the indictment here at United States vs. Richard B. Simring. (PDF)

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5 responses to “Ed Okun and Co-Conspirators Lara Coleman and Richard Simring Charged in New Indictments

  1. For some reason, Richard Simring’s lawyer, Brian Tannebaum, thought it necessary to announce to the world that his client accepts responsibilty for a conspiracy with Okun in stealing over one hundred million dollars and that he is afraid of a trial.

    The fact is that when Richard Simring joined Okun all the damage was done and there were no longer any losses. The govt admits this but conspiracy means that all parties are equally responsible.

    Simring had no monetary gain which is also admitted by the govt.

    During this time Simring was and is suffering from a debilitating mental diminishment resulting from a personal crises and did not knowingly commit any acts of criminality during the three days in question.

    All of this is known to the prosecutor, the judge and Brian Tannebaum, Simring’s lawyer.

    Because Simring was not properly represented and is a victum of prosecutorial ovoverkill and horrible representation, Simring will be:

    A convicted felon
    Possibly incarcerated
    Thereafter placed on supervised release (probation)
    Fined
    Ordered to pay Okun’s resitution responsiblity perhaps in the milllions
    Disbarred

    A young man, 42 years old, his life ruined by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, subjected to prosecutorial vindictiveness and suffering from diminished capacity now exposed to draconian and undesreved punishment for life.

    One would hope that he would have been better represented and protected. Society will not benefit from this sentence or most important branding Richard Simring a felon.

    Friend of Richard Simring

  2. Bullsh_t. The guy is an ivy league graduate who also graduated summ com laude from a prestigious law school. He knew what he was doing when he did it (lying to clients) and also has the knowledge and capacity to coordinate a defense for himself.

    As his friend you may not like seeing Mr. Simring face his illegal actions but he acted in bad faith and must now pay the consequences.

  3. I personally think when Mr Okun has his trial if not postponed in October , they should let the man out , with ankle braclet and WORK to pay back all this people he screwed financially & mentally . Just give him XXX amount oy years to pay back and if he does thats all well and good in not haul his ASS back into jail . Look at all these other asshole who have screwd with goverment fiinances Ed did nothng different but got caught at it !!!!

  4. I must add that My family was one of his victims also , who also got scrwed wuite a bit of money

  5. The facts, which Simring agreed upon, would demonstrate otherwise – Simring helped Okun further his scheme of looting the 1031 companies and, of course, helped conceal the crime.

    I would be very careful of alleging the rather libelous statements about Simring’s lawyer. These accusations appear to have little basis. I haven’t seen Simring try to withdraw the plea deal. There is a mechanism to do so, yet he has not. Simring isn’t going to trial. Simring has not filed any ethical complaints with the bar over incompetent counsel, etc.

    As an attorney, I can assure you that whatever “extenuating circumstances” you may claim – family crisis, etc. , it doesn’t matter. Nothing that has been alleged is what would be termed to be a legal disability. They are not defenses to the crime…only mere excuses as to his motivation. While interesting, his motives need not be proven

    While you may not want to acknowledge that the man is a felon and not the high profile attorney, Simring has done so. If you truly want to rehabilitate this man’s image, then I would avoid trying to discredit the one decent thing he has done since this entire matter started.

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