Judge tells Swampscott man she’s not bound by plea agreement in bank fraud case | Local News | #scams | #elderlyscams
SWAMPSCOTT — A federal judge said Tuesday that she’s not bound by a plea agreement reached between federal prosecutors and a Swampscott man charged with stealing an elderly woman’s money.
But Judge Denise Casper also told Felix Gorovodsky that if she decides that a longer sentence than the 33-month term his lawyer negotiated for him is appropriate, she will let him back out of the plea agreement and go to trial — where he could face up to 30 years in prison.
Gorovodsky, 29, of 18 Paradise Road, Swampscott, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of bank fraud, involving the theft of more than $250,000 from a former Texas woman.
His sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 14, after a pre-sentencing investigation is conducted by the court.
Federal prosecutors announced last month that they had reached an agreement with the Endicott College graduate to plead guilty in the scheme.
Prosecutor Ian Stearns told the judge on Tuesday about the woman, who immigrated from what was then the Soviet Union in 1988 with her husband. Because he spoke some English, he had handled all of the couple’s finances.
After his death, she sought someone who spoke Russian to help her handle her money and to help with the sale of her home.
“That’s when the defendant, who speaks fluent Russian, entered the picture,” Stearns told the judge.
Even though he had no certifications as a financial adviser, he began charging her a fee. The prosecutor also said he began embezzling from her almost from the start, including using her credit cards.
After she sold her home in Texas, with plans to move to Ecuador and retire, she agreed to give Gorovodsky power of attorney to handle some financial matters. After her home closed, she, at Gorovodsky’s recommendation, opened a Capital One CD account.
Stearns said that soon after that, the woman grew distrustful of Gorovodsky and fired him. She changed all of her passwords and had an attorney draft papers revoking Gorovodsky’s power of attorney.
Unbeknownst to them, however, he had added his name to that Capital One account.
Nine months after being removed as power of attorney, he transferred the balance in that account, $252,000, into his own account. When the bank began an investigation, Stearns said Gorovodsky gave the bank a letter purported to be from the woman, saying that she wanted him to have the money as a gift.
Stearns said a forensic examination of his computer showed that Gorovodsky had created the letter shortly after learning of the investigation, then copied and pasted the woman’s signature on the now-defunct power of attorney at the bottom.
He used the money to pay off $100,000 in student loans he incurred while earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and some credit card debt, said the prosecutor.
During the plea hearing, which was conducted via Zoom, Gorovodsky had appended his master’s and bachelor’s degrees and two certifications (MScIT, BBA, SMC and PMP) to his Zoom name.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.