BOSTON – A man accused of a fraudulent $1.5 million real estate investment scheme in Quincy, Mass., and who had been a fugitive for 20 years in connection with an unrelated New York grand theft and larceny indictment, was arrested today in Delray Beach, Fla., on federal charges in connection with the Quincy scheme.
Scott J. Wolas, 67, who, according to court documents, also used the names Eugene J. Grathwohl, Allen L. Hengst, Drew Prescott, Frank Amolsch, Endicott Asquith, and Cameron Sturge, was charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with the proposed development of the former Beachcomber Bar property and the adjoining lot in Quincy. He appeared in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach Division) at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017, for his initial appearance. Wolas is expected to return to Massachusetts at a later date to appear in federal court in Boston.
According to court documents, from at least 2009 through 2016, Wolas, using the name Eugene Grathwohl, operated a real estate business known as Increasing Fortune, Inc. and worked as a licensed real estate agent for Century 21 in Quincy. From 2014 through 2016, he solicited investments for the development of the Beachcomber Bar property located at 797 Quincy Shore Drive and for the construction of a single-family home on the adjacent property. He collected more than $1.5 million from at least 19 investors and promised each of them a significant return on their investments. He allegedly promised to pay out at least 125% of the profits related to the single-family home construction.
Wolas was scheduled to close on the Beachcomber property on Sept. 15, 2016. A week before, however, he left Quincy and ceased all contact with his then-girlfriend, his co-workers, and his investors. Law enforcement then discovered that Grathwohl was actually Wolas, a former lawyer who had been a fugitive since 1997 after being charged with fraud and grand larceny in New York. The real Eugene Grathwohl resides in Florida and is a friend of Wolas’ ex-wife.
The court documents also indicate that the bank account into which Wolas deposited investor funds has been drained, and that Wolas used the money mostly for his personal expenses unrelated to development of the real estate projects.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Aggravated identity theft carries a minimum term of two years’ imprisonment, which must be served consecutively to any term for the wire fraud, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.