July 18, 2009 – William Parente, 58, attorney, financier and arguably the perpetrator of an investment fraud and grand ponzi scheme, allegedly died on April 20, 2009 in a Towson, Maryland hotel room from self-inflicted knife wounds. According to Baltimore County investigating authorities, prior to taking his own life, he brutally murdered his wife, 58, and two daughters, age 11 and 19, in an apparent murder/suicide.
However, there is a group of Parente clients, investors and acquaintances, who knew both the man and his family, and who believe it is out of the question that he could have carried out this gruesome act. Rather, they are convinced that Parente also was murdered, that the suicide was staged as a cover up, and that his death and the death of his family was perpetrated when Parente could not repay debts owed to an investor or investors who had entrusted him with their cash.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is presently investigating Mr. Parente’s financial dealings, having seized records from his Lexington Avenue, New York law office. They refuse to comment on the status of the investigation, except to state that it is ongoing. One apparent problem is that those records, which were seized remain off limits to investigators until the issue of attorney/client privilege has been resolved.
However, one big step may be the recent filing of a probate petition for Parente’s estate in the Nassau County Surrogate Court by a Public Administrator. Such appointments are necessary when no family member has voluntarily assumed the duty of probating the estate of a deceased relative, which appears to be the case here.
It appears that there will be no lack of creditors, making claims against the estate. According to published and unpublished reports, Parente was a financier, who borrowed private money from investors in exchange for unsecured promissory notes, offering very attractive interest rates. He claimed to be financing bridge loans on real estate and other business ventures, also at high interest rates, which he signed personally.
Parente was both an attorney and an accountant, and many of his investors were also clients, friends and recommended friends of friends. There appear to be at least 20 to 30 such investors who collectively invested sums in excess of $25 million, though some believe the total sum invested is far greater.
Parente apparently reassured investors that “the money was safe” and “fully securitized”. Until very recently, he faithfully and timely forwarded interest payments and suppled IRS Form 1099s at year end for his client’s tax returns. Things looked safe and legitimate to most until the end of last year, shortly after the Bernard Madoff revelations, when it appears that several Parente investors elected to redeem their investments.
This is when it appears that questions about the validity of his financial operation started to arise. Investors were getting nervous as they waited for Parente to come up with payments. Post dated checks were issued along with requests for patience, as he was waiting for investments to “mature”.
By the beginning of April, many investors were losing patience, and undoubtedly pressure was being brought to bear on the besieged financier. Shortly before his fateful trip to Baltimore, Parente apparently wrote big checks to a number of investors, none of which could be covered by existing balances in his existing accounts.
Although Parente’s 19 year old daughter was attending Loyola University in the Baltimore area, it appears that the family was scheduled for a visit the following weekend, and thus the early visit was a surprise. Could Parente have been lured to Baltimore by an unhappy investor?
Baltimore County Detectives investigating the deaths apparently found documents in the hotel room which indicated that Parente was involved in an investment business and that “there may have been one or more unhappy investors”. Officials refused to further elaborate, but one is left to wonder why he would have been carrying such materials on a family visit to his daughter’s college.
Regardless, investors are left wondering if they will ever see repayment of their monies. The answer will likely be found in Parente’s files, now in the possession of federal officials. There may be real investments and recoverable accounts receivable. There is also the possibility that a time passed when Parente’s legitimate investments went bad, and unwilling to confront his investors with the news, he resorted to paying off old obligations with new investment money, the classic ponzi scheme scenario.
If indeed Parente was running a fraudulent enterprise, the question arises whether there are third parties, such as banks or other participants, who knowingly facilitated the fraud, and therefore might have liability for aiding and abetting the fraud. Such theories require research, and if warranted, the filing of civil claims in state of federal court.
For the moment the task is to get access to Parente’s books and records, where hopefully, the true story will emerge. While investors continue to speculate about these tragic and seemingly senseless deaths, it will be up to the police to determine what really happened in Towson that day in April.
If you are a William Parente Investor/Victim or the victim of some other type of investment fraud, the Law Offices of the attorney, and its affiliates, is prepared to review your situation and potential claim(s) without charge, and will consider representing you on a contingent fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay out of pocket for your legal representation. The firm will take a fee only if we are successful in recovering your assets.
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