BOSTON, June 18, 2013—The Suffolk County Grand Jury has indicted two former attorneys on more than 20 counts each for allegedly scheming to obtain more than one million dollars from various finance companies by fraudulent means, with one additionally accused of stealing money owed to his clients, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
The indictments, returned on Friday, charge MICHAEL GERMANO (D.O.B. 9/29/63) of Wilmington with five counts of larceny, one count of conspiracy to commit larceny, one count of attempted larceny, two counts of embezzlement by a fiduciary, and 17 counts of uttering a false document. The indictments also charge PETER LAGORIO (D.O.B. 8/22/55) of Lynnfield with three counts of larceny, one count of conspiracy to commit larceny, one count of attempted larceny, and 17 counts of uttering a false document.
Both defendants were civil attorneys working in private practice: Germano primarily worked in personal injury claims, while Lagorio primarily handled class action suits in the same building on Atlantic Avenue in Boston’s North End. Both men have been disbarred and are no longer licensed to act as attorneys.
Germano is accused of two types of theft. The first relates to his alleged embezzlement of funds from insurance settlements owed to two car accident victims he represented. In those matters, after receiving $180,000 in settlements, he allegedly moved the money from a trust account to his operating account and used it for his own purposes, giving none of it to the clients.
Germano and Lagorio are both accused of the second form of theft, which involves allegedly defrauding financing companies in the business of advancing funds to lawyers and clients based on settled lawsuits. Such companies provide funds up front before the agreed-upon settlement can be finally disbursed to the lawyer or the client. The victimized finance companies relied on the existence and amounts of settlements as represented by the defendants and evidenced by fraudulent documents provided by the defendants to the companies.
In these cases, Germano and Lagorio allegedly provided the companies with false evidence of settled claims. In Germano’s case, he allegedly altered closed settlements from past clients and kept for himself the money paid to him by the finance companies. Lagorio allegedly used real individuals’ identities to create fraudulent plaintiffs in a class action suit arising out of the 2006 explosion at a Danvers chemical company.
All told, Germano and Lagorio are charged with the theft of $1,470,000 from individuals and businesses. Those losses were investigated by Boston Police and Suffolk prosecutors, with the support and cooperation of the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts and the US Postal Inspection Service.
Germano is represented by attorney William Keefe and Lagorio by attorney Thomas Butters. Their arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court is expected on July 3.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.