New York attorney pleads guilty to $19M real estate Ponzi scheme

Robert Wisnicki lured investors into purchasing real estate, paying old investors with new investors’ money

New York Attorney Pleads Guilty to $19M Real Estate Ponzi Scheme
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A 44-year-old New York-based attorney has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a $19 million real estate Ponzi scheme, among other misdeeds.

Robert Wisnicki, who also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, used his law firms — Wisnicki & Associates LLP and Wisnicki Neuhauser LLP — to lure investors into purchasing real estate and to conceal the proceeds of health care fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison each. As part of his plea agreement, Wisnicki agreed to pay restitution of $18.8 million.

In the Ponzi scheme, Wisnicki’s law firms specialized in real estate transactions. He began his real estate investment business in 2007, wherein existing clients, referred to as “Investor Clients,” entrusted their funds to him. 

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Wisnicki identified real estate investment opportunities for the clients and represented them in the resulting transactions.

However, as the clients began losing money, instead of informing them, Wisnicki used funds from other clients held in trust accounts to conceal the losses. He falsely assured his clients that their funds were still secure, even though he had transferred those funds to the other clients. 

Additionally, Wisnicki used funds from new clients to repay previous ones, misleading them about the purpose of their investments. The fraudulent activity continued until at least 2022, resulting in approximately $18.8 million owed to clients

In a separate scheme, Wisnicki became involved in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of health care fraud, exploiting New York and New Jersey no-fault insurance laws.That involved medical service providers receiving direct payments from insurance companies for treating automobile accident victims. Wisnicki and his conspirators fraudulently controlled medical professional corporations and billed insurance companies for unnecessary and excessive medical treatments, further lying under oath to insurance representatives.

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