SF Investment Consultant Accused of Multi-Million Dollar Fraud

By Dana Kitchens
|  Thursday, Aug 5, 2010  |  Updated 1:45 PM PDT
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SF Investment Consultant Accused of Multi-Million Dollar Fraud

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Joseph Viola is charged in U.S. District Court with mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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A North Beach investment consultant was indicted Tuesday in a multi-million dollar fraud swindle, according to the FBI.

Joseph Viola, whose real name is Giuseppe Viola, was arrested as part of a five-month FBI investigation.

Beyond accusations of theft, a federal grand jury in San Francisco also charged the 59-year-old with committing mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft to further his fraudulent investment consulting business. Viola allegedly operated by illegally using the identity of “RDN,” deceased, to open and use bank, trading and brokerage accounts, according to the indictment.

“This is really a viper in the middle of North Beach who just stole zillions from those poor people,” William McGrane, a San Francisco lawyer representing some of the investors, told the Bay Citizen. “It just shows you how gullible people are. It just bends your mind.”

The FBI announced that investors lost approximately $7 million, but the indictment also accuses Viola of using approximately $2 million of these funds to further his plan to design and produce a sports car, the “SV 9 Competizione.”

Writing with a golf pencil from the jail, Viola argued that since the bankruptcy papers identify him by his original name, Joseph Viola, no “legally recognizable connection has been demonstrated,” reported the Bay Citizen.

The maximum penalty for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud is 20 years and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, plus restitution. The maximum penalty for each count of aggravated identity theft is two years imprisonment in addition to punishment for violation of mail and wire.

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