CHARLESTON — A Hilton Head lawyer has pleaded guilty in a multimillion asset transfer case.
The plea by Peter J. Strauss, 45, of Beaufort, to removal of property to prevent seizure was made in the federal District of South Carolina, a news release says.
Strauss founded and was managing partner of the Strauss Law Firm in Hilton Head, which specialized in estate and tax planning, asset protection and the implementation of captive insurance solutions for clients. He also served as principal of Hamilton Captive Management, which provides management services to his clients’ captive insurance funds.
Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that Strauss knowingly transferred millions of dollars for Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, perpetrators of the largest criminal fraud scheme in the federal Eastern District of California, the news release says.
The Carpoffs owned and operated DC Solar Solutions Inc. and DC Solar Distribution Inc., California corporations that specialized in the production of mobile solar generators.
FBI and other federal agents executed search and seizure warrants on businesses associated with DC Solar and the Capoffs’ residences on Dec. 18, 2018, and seized bank accounts and assets associated with DC Solar and its principals, the release says.
The efforts were part of a large-scale wire, tax and investment fraud investigation and money laundering scheme, the release says.
After the searches and seizures, Strauss received $11 million in three seven-figure transfers from the Carpoffs between Dec. 19, 2018, and Jan. 15, 2019, the release says. The money was transferred to various bankruptcy and criminal defense attorneys and the Carpoffs’ captive insurance funds that were managed by Strauss’ company and used to pay the couple’s captive insurance fund premiums.
By pleading guilty, Strauss admitted that he knowingly aided and abetted the government’s efforts to seize the money, the release says. He has agreed to pay $2.7 million to the federal government.
He also faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000, additional restitution and three years of post-release court supervision.
The Capoffs have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to long prison terms, the release says.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse prosecuted the case.