Thursday, October 23, 2008

Houston Lawyer Found Guilty of Fraud and Conspiracy

I can understand why celebrities are appealing targets for shady investment schemes. When you get paid one million dollars per episode of a hit sitcom, $5000 every time you throw a pitch from the mound of a major league stadium, or $100,000 to lip sync on Saturday Night Live, you usually have an enviable amount of disposable income. And, if your schedule is hectic or you just have a particularly trusting disposition concerning your fortune, people will ill intentions will find you. One such person, Houston attorney Ted Russell Schwartz Murray, had his crimes revealed and has been found guilty on 22 counts of conspiracy, fraud and filing false tax returns.

Mr. Murray was the owner of Premiere Holdings real estate investments and, along with two co-defendants who testified against him, he stole more than $67 million from investors including retired baseball player Vince Coleman and actor Chuck Norris. Has Mr. Murray seen the finely tuned martial arts skills that Norris displays on his television programs? Perhaps not a wise target. Murray promised these men, and many other wealthy investors, real estate investments that would bring high interest and quick money. Instead, he used the swindled cash for items such a $29,000 Rolex, casino gambling, and spa treatments for his mother (such a good boy!).

As it stands now, Mr. Murray will receive his sentence from Judge Vanessa Gilmore in March 2009. However, Murray's attorney, Ed Tomko, plans to ask for a new trial for his client and asserts that the other two defendants were solely responsible for the fraudulent activity. Also, as is popular these days, Mr. Tomko blamed the economy. He said, "I don't think the jury seeing the economy collapse because of bad mortgages could have helped us."

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who specialize both in celebrity law and white collar criminal defense. So, if you are a Oscar-winning actor who is the victim of a scam or a business owner who is being accused of perpetrating the scam, we can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss the details of your case.

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