Former Manchester mayor Peter DiRosa sentenced for wire fraud

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., May. 16, 2013
A photo from the 1989 Town Annual Report of Peter DiRosa as mayor. Image courtesy of the town clerk's office. - Contributed Photo

On Thursday, May 9, former Manchester mayor Peter DiRosa was sentenced to 57 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for wire fraud. DiRosa was convicted on Jan. 30, following a three-day jury trial in the District Court of Portland, Maine, said U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II. The sentencing followed a pre-sentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

In May of 2008, DiRosa and an associate, Thomas Renison of South Glastonbury, solicited $600,000 from a 77-year-old retiree, Frank Jablonski of Kennebunk, Maine, according to statements issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of Maine. DiRosa and Renison told Jablonski that the money would be used as collateral for a loan, with which they would purchase land in Hungary. Several months after the $600,000 was sent to Hungary, $225,000 was transferred to a bank account under DiRosa’s control.

“DiRosa and his associate also made a variety of false representations about individuals allegedly affiliated with the real estate venture and projections about its financial success,” the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

An affidavit submitted by FBI Special Agent Christopher Peavey summarizes the sequence of events leading up to the conviction: Jablonski was approached by Renison, who had managed some of Jablonski's retirement funds, along with DiRosa. The two told Jablonski they were involved in a real estate project involving the development of a casino and golf resort in Hungary called the Castle at Polgardi. Renison told Jablonski that if he invested $600,000, he would have his money returned in six months, as well as $400,000 in profits. The funds, Jablonski was told, would be held in an interest-bearing account, which would yield an additional 10-percent interest on the initial investment. Jablonski agreed, and the money was wired to a bank in Hungary on May 28, 2008.

After six months had passed, Renison told Jablonski that the money was not available due to the global economic slowdown. He also said that there was $30,000 in accrued interest in the Hungarian account, and asked Jablonski what he wanted to do with it. Jablonski told him to keep it in the account so it could continue to accrue interest.

In April 2009, Jablonski was told by his accountant that his tax documents showed more than $700,000 in income, and therefore he owed more than $300,000 in state and federal taxes. “Jablonski then realized that the disbursement of over $600,000 from the retirement annuities had triggered this tax burden,” Peavey stated in the affidavit. This prompted Jablonski to ask Renison to return the money so he could pay his taxes and penalties. Renison declined, but offered Jablonski reassurances that the project was progressing.

“Jablonski called Renison again in a few days later to demand the return of his money,” the affidavit continues. “Jablonski stated that Renison's tone had totally changed since their initial relationship, and Renison harshly told him that he could not return the money, but might do so in June or July. It was at this point that Jablonski retained counsel in an attempt to recover his money.”

DiRosa was interviewed by FBI agents at the FBI office in Bridgeport on Sept. 25, 2009, where he claimed that he had arranged to have $300,000 wired to Jablonski some days later, Oct. 2, 2009, through his Budapest attorney, Dr. Ilkido Sardy. The remaining $300,000 was also to be wired on Oct. 9, 2009. He also said that he had tried returning the $600,000 to Jablonski six or seven times prior, but was unable to do so due to “bad wiring instructions.”

Renison and DiRosa faced depositions from 2010 to 2011. In 2010, DiRosa said he did not know where the money was, while Renison said it was in an escrow account.

Peavey concluded that based on the facts, there is probable cause to believe that Renison and DiRosa conspired to commit wire fraud between May 2008 and July 2009 at the least, and requested the court issue a criminal complaint and arrest warrant, charging them with violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.

The terms of the violation are: “knowingly and with intent to defraud, devise and intend to devise a scheme to defraud and to obtain money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises, knowing that they were false and fraudulent when made, and knowingly causing to be transmitted by means of wire communication in interstate and foreign commerce, any writing, signs and signals for the purpose of executing the scheme.”

DiRosa began his political career in Manchester as a Republican on the Board of Directors in 1983. He became a Democrat in 1985, and was elected mayor. He served as mayor until 1989. Following that, he served another term on the board as the minority leader.

Some major accomplishments of the town during DiRosa's tenure include the development of Buckland Hills Mall and the J.C. Penny warehouse.

The announcement of the conviction came as disturbing news to town clerk Joseph Camposeo, who knew DiRosa. “He was a good mayor,” Camposeo said. “This is certainly sad news.”

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