NY ‘Lottery Lawyer’ gets 13 years for scheme targeting jackpot winners
Daily Harrison Voice (NY)
Long Island resident Jason Kurland, age 49, of Dix Hills, was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison in US District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday, June 15.
It followed his July 2022 conviction for wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
According to prosecutors, Kurland was a partner at a Long Island law firm between 2018 and 2020, and built a reputation for representing lottery jackpot winners across the United States.
He regularly marketed himself in the national media as the "lottery lawyer," with expertise in counseling those who had suddenly come into large amounts of money through jackpot winnings.
In 2018, Kurland took on three major lottery winners - one won the $1.5 billion Mega Millions lottery, another won the $245 million Powerball jackpot, and the third won the $150 million jackpot.
Each victim paid him and his law firm hundreds of thousands of dollars for guidance on how to invest their winnings.
Prosecutors argued that after gaining their trust, Kurland steered victims into investing in various risky businesses that he secretly co-owned and controlled with co-defendants Francis Smookler and Frangesco Russo.
He was rewarded for his efforts with undisclosed kickbacks based on a percentage of the lottery victims' investments, prosecutors said.
The trio used the proceeds from the victims' investments to keep their scheme going and to fund their lavish lifestyles, including expensive vacations, luxury vehicles, and two yachts.
Investigators also uncovered text messages and phone calls in which the group bragged about their scheme.
In one text message to Russo, Kurland wrote, "Have to figure out how to have this get to us," referring to one of the lottery victim's winnings.
"Kurland used the unique attorney-client relationship, which is founded on principles of honesty and loyalty, to his advantage, ensuring that he and his co-defendants secured multimillion-dollar investments," the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District said in a statement.
Prosecutors also highlighted one pre-investment meeting that Kurland had with one of the victims.
"Haven't talked about the investment yet, but I could not have teed it up better," he texted Smookler and Russo.
The victim later invested $5 million in one of Kurland's businesses without knowing that Kurland was an owner, prosecutors said.
On another occasion, Kurland convinced one of the victims to unknowingly purchase his and his co-defendants' entire business for $2 million.
He later bragged about the move in a text message to Smookler that said, "Like looking at my bank statement today. Not gonna lie."
In April 2020, Kurland, Russo, and Smookler began investing in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) deals to try and recoup their losses and conceal their fraud, according to prosecutors.
Kurland was found to have stolen $19.5 million from one of the lottery victims' accounts, though only a portion of the money ever went to the purported PPE deals. Millions of dollars instead went to Chierchio and the other co-defendants.
In all, prosecutors argued that Kurland's and his co–defendants' actions resulted in the lottery victims losing more than $80 million, in addition to the $19.5 million that was stolen by Kurland directly from one victim.
Chierchio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering after personally pocketing more than $25 million.
He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $26.5 million in forfeiture and $30.5 million in restitution.
In addition to his time behind bars, Kurland must also pay $64.6 million in forfeiture. His restitution will be determined at a later date.