Lew Freeman, Miami's Celebrity Forensic Accountant, Charged With Mail Fraud, UPDATE
For years, Lew Freeman was Miami's go-to "forensic accountant" -- the numbers guy who cleaned up the mess when a high-profile company imploded.
As detailed in Jay Weaver's excellent profile back in October, Freeman gave to charities, boosted the University of Miami and palled around with politicos. When then-Commissioner Joe Sanchez announced his bid to replace Manny Diaz as mayor, he proudly tapped Freeman as his campaign treasurer.
Then, last fall, Freeman's high-profile life and business crumbled spectacularly just like one of the failed firms he made his name picking apart.
The FBI raided his office in early October. On Oct. 15, a federal receiver took over his Coconut Grove-based Lewis B. Freeman & Partners to liquidate the assets, sell the office space, and take claims from former clients.
Today comes one of the final nails in Freeman's coffin. The U.S. Attorney's Office will announce mail fraud charges against the forensic accountant this afternoon.
U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman has called an 11 a.m. meeting to discuss the charges, and Freeman's first court appearance is scheduled for later this afternoon.
There's no word yet on precisely what charges Freeman will face, but Weaver's reporting last fall suggested that Freeman was stealing from the receiverships set up to wind up business at the failed companies he was hired to investigate.
Ritpide will update later after the meeting.
Update: Freeman surrendered this morning, and faces one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, Sloman said at this afternoon's meeting.
Freeman used his receiverships to operate a Ponzi scheme, Sloman said, taking millions out of the failed firms' funds to fuel his "lavish lifestyle" and then replenishing them with cash from new receiverships.
During a decade-long scam, Freeman and some unnamed coconspirators wrote at least 162 fraudulent checks worth more than $6 million, according to his indictment.
"He was motivated by greed and stole from the assets he was responsible for protecting," said John Gillies, the FBI Special Agent in Charge on the investigation.
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