Alum Tyrone Gilliams accused of wire fraud
Grad Tyrone Gilliams allegedly misappropriated money intended for charitable foundation
October 17, 2011, 11:46 pm·
Elizabeth Jacobs | DP
Investing in gold isn’t always a golden opportunity.
Tyrone Gilliams, a 1990 College graduate, was arrested for alleged wire fraud in Philadelphia on Oct. 5. According to Reuters, Gilliams is a commodities trader who has been trying to position himself as a reality TV star who made a fortune on trading gold, diamonds, sugar and oil.
According to court documents, on Oct. 14, Gilliams agreed to forfeit half a million dollars in property and will be restricted from being anywhere other than the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York for criminal and civil appearances and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and New Jersey for transit.
Gilliams is accused of misappropriating at least half of the $4 million given to him by an intermediary, New York financier Vassilis Morfopoulos. Morfopoulos was entrusted with investing on the behalf of David Parlin and his Ohio-based charity, the Parlin Family Foundation Fund.
Gilliams, owner of TL Gilliams, LLC, faces a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of either $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. He’s accused of spending a majority of the misappropriated $2 million on a gala called “Joy to the World” and a follow-up event in the Bahamas.
However, Drexel Law professor Amy Boss wrote in an email that “sentences can vary widely because of the severity of the fraud and the number of victims involved.”
“Wire fraud is a basic fraud,” she wrote. “Anyone who can be the victim of common fraud can be the victim of wire fraud.”
Boss explained that as the use of electronic communications have increased, “instances of wire fraud have drastically increased.” But she adds that, “if the allegations are as simple in the Gilliams case as prosecutors appear to maintain, this would be an easy case.”
Boss wrote further that while $4 million is a large amount of money, what “compounds the situation is that the expected beneficiary of the money was a charitable foundation.”
However, in the affidavit Gilliams claimed that he invested the money in gold from Ghana and turned out a profit which he planned to share with investors. He denies unlawfully spending the money on anything not related to the business.
“It is hard to see how spending $1.3 million that was intended to be invested to fund a gala in the Bahamas is an ‘appropriate use,’” Boss wrote. However, she concluded that one would need to know the exact terms under which the funds were entrusted to Gilliams.
United States Magistrate Judge Linda Caracappa is presiding over the case. Gilliams is being tried in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Gilliams is representing himself. U.S. Attorney Michael Levy, the prosecutor, declined to comment on the case.