April 23, 2009 in Nation/World

Financial ‘coach’ accused of fraud


In the first criminal case related to the banking bailout, a Tennessee financial adviser was accused Wednesday of operating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that lured investors in part by promising that their investments would go into debt backed by the federal government’s $750 billion rescue program.

The prosecution is among 20 criminal investigations into potential wrongdoing that were disclosed this week by Neal Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The financial adviser, Gordon B. Grigg of Franklin, Tenn., described himself as a “life and financial coach” and had lured nearly 60 investors to his ProTrust Management Group since 1990, according to a federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn.

Grigg allegedly stole about $5 million from clients, according to the complaint. Although none of that money came from TARP funds, Barofsky has said he intends to pursue schemes that defraud investors under the name of the bailout even when they don’t involve the loss of public money.

Grigg’s attorney, Mark Pickrell, said Wednesday that his client tentatively had agreed to plead guilty to four counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud.


Man convicted of killing transsexual

A Colorado man who says he bludgeoned his date to death out of rage and shock after discovering she was biologically male was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder and a hate crime.

Jurors deliberated about two hours before finding Allen Ray Andrade, 32, guilty of killing Angie Zapata, 18, of Greeley last July. District Judge Marcelo Kopcow swiftly sentenced him to life in prison without possibility of parole – the state’s mandatory sentence for first-degree murder.

Zapata, a transsexual, had dressed as female for much of her life, her family said. The case was among the first uses of a hate-crimes statute that protects transgendered people.

Gay, lesbian and transsexual groups hailed the jury’s decision. Activists noted that the conviction occurred in a conservative, largely rural county.

“Finally, a rural county sheriff and prosecutor step up to the plate,” said Kate Bowman of the Gender Identity Center of Colorado.

From wire reports

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