Ex-Biglaw Partner Pleads Guilty After 20 Years As A Fugitive

07/04/2018 Law


Scott Wolas, 69, is a former litigation partner at Hunton & Williams (legacy firm of Hunton Andrews Kurth), and that is pretty much the least fascinating part of this story. See, since the late 90s, Wolas has been dogged by allegations of a wide variety of financial crimes. He even went on the lam when charges were brought against him in New York as part of a liquor-exporting scheme.

In 1995 Wolas was kicked out of his position in the Hunton partnership amid a scandal alleging overbilling and an outside investment scheme that swindled millions of dollars from investors. In 1997 he was indicted on 119 counts of fraud and grand larceny in New York over his alleged Ponzi scheme. That’s right around when he first went on the run, using a series of false identities to elude authorities over the years. By 1999 his financial antics led to his disbarment, and his now-former firm was left to clean up his mess. Hunton paid at least $6 million to investors over his liquor exporting scheme. Plus the firm settled with a former associate that alleged they were wrongfully fired after pressing for an inquiry into Wolas’s billing practices.

Wolas’s was finally arrested in 2017 — but over a different allegedly fraudulent financial scheme. By that time he was going by the name Eugene Grathwohl, and he convinced at least 19 people to give him $1.7 million as part of an investment scheme to buy a bar in Quincy, Massachusetts. But a week before the deal was set to close Wolas pulled another vanishing act, disappearing with the money.

Wolas was tracked down by investigators to Florida, in the same town where to real Eugene Grathwohl lives. He’s now reached a deal with federal prosecutors, and entered a plea to seven counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of misusing a Social Security number, and one count of tax evasion.

According to Law.com, Wolas faces up to 20 year in jail and he’ll have to pay an awful lot in restitution:

Wolas could face a maximum of 20 years in prison plus three years of supervised release on the wire fraud charges, while the identity theft charge carries a minimum sentence of two years that must be served in addition to any other prison sentence Wolas receives.

Prosecutors said that as part of Wolas’ plea deal, filed in court on Thursday, they would also recommend he pay restitution of about $1.79 million to his victims, plus $69,768 to the Social Security Administration and Medicare, and another $318,266 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Wolas’s sentencing is scheduled for October 2nd.


headshotKathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).