Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Fiorini files for bankruptcy



By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Bad news for people trying to recover money from former investment promoter George Fiorini: He claims he's broke.

The one-time insurance agent and creator of the defunct 10 Percent Income Plus Plan has filed a personal bankruptcy petition in Cincinnati. Among other things, he and his wife, Vicki, list a zero balance in their checking account, a house that's in foreclosure and monthly expenses 10 times greater than their poverty-level $490 a month in income.

Fiorini, 54, helped raise almost $15 million from investors through a promissory note scheme that a judge ruled a fraud in 2001. Investors filed lawsuits. Federal prosecutors seized Fiorini's assets and charged him with 80 counts of fraud, money laundering and income tax evasion. He is awaiting trial.

By filing under Chapter 7 of federal bankruptcy law, the Fiorinis are seeking liquidation of assets to pay creditors. Their filing states:

• They have two homes in western Hamilton County, a rental property and three condos in Sarasota County, Fla. But their primary home, in Miami Township, is in foreclosure, and the government is trying to seize the rest, alleging they were bought with proceeds from fraud. The U.S. Marshals Service already has auctioned off Fiorini's exotic car collection, charging it, too, was bought with the proceeds of fraud.

• Their only other assets are $75,000 in unspecified promissory notes, $21,000 in IRA and trust accounts, a $10,000 federal income tax refund they are expecting, $2,000 in furnishings and $600 worth of clothes.

• Most of their monthly income, about $450, derives from the rental of an unspecified property. Their expenses add up to $4,959 a month, excluding two car payments.

Cheryl Bentley, a Butler County resident who has $9,000 tied up in notes sold by Fiorini, was only slightly rattled by news of his bankruptcy.

"Great, so that means we can't get zip then," said Bentley, who lives in Liberty Township. "But I don't believe he's bankrupt. He's smarter than that. He's probably got a million things in Switzerland and in the kids' names."

In 2002, before he was indicted by a federal grand jury, Fiorini signed a sworn statement that he was too poor to hire a lawyer. The court assigned him a lawyer from the federal public defender's office.

The lawyer, W. Kelly Johnson, negotiated a plea bargain agreement for Fiorini in September, but Fiorini changed his mind, putting the case back on course for trial. Fiorini then asked to be appointed another lawyer. He also expressed contempt for prosecutors who charged him with nine additional crimes in connection with an alleged car-buying scheme this summer while Fiorini was free on bond.

E-mail jmcnair@enquirer.com



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