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Former Attorney Finally Charged after 20 Years on the Run
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Summary: A former Hunton & Williams partner who disappeared 20 years ago for committing fraud pleaded guilty in another fraudulent scheme.

An attorney that went into hiding 20 years ago to avoid prosecution for a Ponzi scheme he orchestrated pleaded guilty to another investment scheme he was involved in. The former Hunton & Williams partner, Scott Wolas, disappeared in 1997, assuming a stolen identity to avoid being charged with any crimes.


In Boston federal court, Wolas, 69, pleaded guilty to seven counts of wire fraud and one count aggravated identity theft, one count tax evasion, and one count misuse of a Social Security number, according to the ABA Journal. Wire fraud comes with a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

According to the press release, Wolas was using the name Eugene Grathwohl between 2009 and 2016 when he created the investment scheme. The prosecutors stated he was running a real estate business known as Increasing Fortune Inc. and working as a real estate agent for Century 21. He managed to collect $1.7 million from at least 20 investors in Quincy, Massachusetts. The collected the investments 2014 when he organized the purchase and renovation of a nightclub property. He guaranteed the investors a return on investment of at least 125 percent.

By 2016, Wolas had one again disappeared with the money a week before the property was set to close. He stopped all contact from that point on with his then-girlfriend, co-workers and investors. This event led to an investigation into Grathwohl, who they learned was actually the fugitive Wolas, wanted in New York for fraud and grand larceny. The real Grathwohl lived in Florida but did know Wolas.

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Prosecutors agreed to seek a lighter sentence as part of the plea deal. However, they are seeking full restitution for the investors, a return of $70,000 in wrongfully collected Social Security benefits and payment of roughly $318,000 in unpaid taxes.

Wolas was disbarred from the state bar in 1999. Hunton & Williams had to pay $6 million to settle a suit by investors for the Ponzi scheme involving liquor-exporting fraud, according to the American Lawyer.

Wolas was finally caught in Delray Beach, Florida. The authorities tracked his ex-wife, Cecily Sturge, who was currently living in Delray Beach. They had evidence that he had called her, despite her claims that she had not heard from him in 15 years. Wolas was arrested at a condo he had rented under his ex-wife’s name. He was now claiming to be his ex-wife’s brother Cameron Sturge. She has since pleaded guilty to making a materially false statement to a federal agent. She was sentenced to one year probation.

The Patriot Legder alleges that Wolas has used six identities over the last twenty years. One of the names he used was his college roommate. He used this name to become a broker but soon after disappeared when the FBI issued a warrant for his arrest.

U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV set the sentencing hearing for October 2, 2018.

Do you think Wolas is getting off easy because of the plea deal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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