Hamilton Captive Management CEO pleads guilty – millions of dollars transferred for fraudsters

Lawyer facing maximum penalty of five years in federal prison

Hamilton Captive Management CEO pleads guilty – millions of dollars transferred for fraudsters

Hamilton Captive Management chief executive Peter J. Strauss is facing a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to transferring millions of dollars for convicted fraudsters Jeff and Paulette Carpoff.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina noted in a release: “Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that Strauss knowingly transferred millions of dollars for Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, two individuals who have since been convicted and sentenced for their roles in the largest criminal fraud scheme in the Eastern District of California.”

The Carpoff couple owned and operated DC Solar Solutions and DC Solar Distribution, through which they “enjoyed an excessive accumulation of wealth” by selling non-existent mobile solar generators to investors. Jeff Carpoff, who in 2020 pleaded guilty in California to money laundering and wire fraud, was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in prison. His wife, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and money laundering in 2021, was sentenced to 11 years and three months.

So, how did Strauss – also the founder and managing partner of the Strauss Law Firm in Hilton Head – get implicated?

Peter J. Strauss’ role

“Following the execution of search and seizure warrants related to an investigation into the Carpoffs’ company, Strauss received $11 million from the Carpoffs,” the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina said. “On December 19, 2018, the first $5 million was transferred into Strauss’ IOLTA (interest on lawyers’ trust accounts) account and thereafter distributed to various criminal defense attorneys and bankruptcy counsel and to Carpoffs’ captive insurance funds, managed by Strauss’ captive insurance management company.

“Thereafter, on December 28, 2018, Strauss received an additional $3 million, used to pay for the Carpoffs’ captive insurance fund premiums. Finally, on January 15, 2019, the Carpoffs wired Strauss $3 million into Strauss’ IOLTA account. Thereafter, the funds were comingled in Strauss’ IOLTA account and completely spent over the next few months.

“By pleading guilty, Strauss admitted that by the time of the $3 million transfer on January 15, 2019, he knowingly transferred and aided and abetted the transfer of funds from Carpoff to prevent and impair the government’s lawful authority to take such property into its custody and control. The defendant has agreed to pay $2.7 million in restitution to the Federal Clerk of Court at or before the sentencing.”

Aside from prison time, Strauss is also facing a fine of up to $250,000, restitution, and three of supervision to follow the term of imprisonment.      

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