"Where is the man with money to fix up the Beachcomber?" by Beth Healy Globe Staff September 20, 2016
A Quincy real estate broker who raised at least $1.3 million from investors failed to show up at a property deal closing last week, raising concern that he’s taken off with their money.
Eugene Grathwohl worked out of a Century 21 office in Quincy, the manager told the Globe on Tuesday. Grathwohl failed to appear last week to wrap up an agreement to buy the former Beachcomber bar across from Wollaston Beach, a group of his clients said, sparking a frenzied online effort to find him.
In a search of Internet records and news stories, and by piecing together tidbits the real estate broker had told them of his family and past, the group believes Grathwohl is the same man who allegedly defrauded people for millions of dollars in Orlando and in New York City as far back as the 1990s.
Quincy police are looking for Grathwohl, according to people contacted by law enforcement officers, and the state securities regulator issued a subpoena seeking to talk to him.
A gregarious man who grew close to his clients, Grathwohl would join them for holiday dinners and drinking outings, according to three people who did business with him. He ultimately persuaded them to invest large sums with him, developing waterfront properties in Quincy and putting together bids for the Beachcomber and an adjacent property. It’s the money for those two deals that investors are worried is missing.
“He’s absolutely brilliant,’’ said Benjamin Porter, an engineer who said he gave Grathwohl $50,000 for a real estate investment. “Smart and charismatic.”
Now Porter and others are stunned that they may have been taken in by the man. “I have a normal job, I have kids. That’s a huge chunk of money for me,’’ Porter said.
The investors believe Grathwohl, 67, has also gone by the name Allen L. Hengst, as a stockbroker in Florida who allegedly defrauded clients of more than $6 million, according to regulatory records.
Before that, Hengst used the name Scott J. M. Wolas, as a lawyer in New York, according to regulatory filings and news reports. Wolas was investigated in 1996 by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan district attorney’s office for his alleged involvement in a $20 million fraud. He disappeared before authorities could find him and has been a fugitive since being indicted for fraud and larceny.
The law firm where Wolas had worked at the time, Hunton & Williams, reportedly settled a lawsuit with 20 investors for $6 million in the matter, in 1998. Scott J. Wolas was disbarred in New York in 1999, after his firm received client complaints about allegedly fraudulent investments he had lured them into.
As part of their research, investors in the Quincy project said they contacted a family member in Florida and a former law colleague, and compared recent photos of Grathwohl to one of Wolas in a 2001 USA Today story.
There are no listed phone numbers for Grathwohl in the Boston area. His girlfriend, Lorraine Croft, said she was cooperating with police. She said he had two other aliases in the decade-and-a-half they were together, but that she, too, was fooled by him.
“I knew this man for 15 years,’’ Croft said. “He treated me like a queen because I was a cover story, and I took it hook, line, and sinker.”
She also confirmed he is the same person as the one pictured in the USA Today story.
In the Quincy area, Grathwohl allegedly has raised money from lawyers, a doctor, and other investors who found him fascinating and came to trust him.
Arthur Foley, manager of the Century 21 office in Quincy, said Grathwohl earned his real estate license in 2009 and quickly became a top broker. Over time, he developed a couple condominiums, Foley said, and wooed investors to his projects.
“He was supposed to come back last Wednesday’’ from a purported trip out of town, Foley said.
“The next day, Thursday last week, I went to the Quincy police,” he said.
A spokesman for the department did not return a call seeking comment. Secretary of State William F. Galvin said the Securities Division issued a subpoena for Grathwohl on Tuesday and was working with the Norfolk district attorney’s office to investigate the case.
Grathwohl is listed as a director of Beachcomber Sands Inc., a company he formed with Croft in April 2015, according to public records filed with the secretary of state’s office.
The Globe reported in August 2015 on the sale of the Beachcomber, a once-popular bar and music establishment. Grathwohl had been slated to buy the property from the McGettrick family.
His investors said he had delayed the purchase for months, and that their funds could be lost because he effectively broke the contract with the sellers.
Sean McGettrick, a member of the selling family, did not respond to a phone message.
Warrant issued for Quincy real estate broker
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"Builder who pretended veterans owned firm gets 30 months in prison" by Dan Adams Globe Staff September 27, 2016
David Gorski, the Chelmsford man who fraudulently won $113 million in federal construction contracts by pretending his construction company was owned by disabled veterans, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $1 million by a federal judge Tuesday.
Prosecutors said Gorski ran a scheme from 2006 to 2010 to deceive the US government, which under a small-business program preferentially awards contracts to companies owned by veterans who became disabled while serving in the military.
Gorski’s former company, Legion Construction, submitted numerous bids to the Army, Navy, and Department of Veterans Affairs indicating that its president and majority owner was a Korean War veteran, Joseph Steen.
In reality, prosecutors said, the elderly and infirm Steen spent most of his time sleeping and watching television while Gorski managed nearly every aspect of Legion’s business — and reaped most of the profits.
Peter Ianuzzi, who served as a Marine in the 1990s, was brought aboard later and worked for the company but did not run it.
All told, Gorski personally pocketed $6.4 million from 2006 to 2010, according to court documents. He also paid his wife — who worked full time for the Town of Chelmsford — $400 a week.
In June, he was convicted by a jury of four counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the government.
Prosecutors had hoped for a harsher sentence of seven years in jail. They told the judge that Gorski knew he was cheating the system, and even wrote to his personal lawyer to seek advice on how to retain control of the company after making Ianuzzi the majority owner to avoid detection.
“Gorski, an individual who was very familiar with the rules . . . stole these opportunities from true service-disabled veterans seeking to run their own businesses,” prosecutors in US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office wrote in a recent court filing.
Gorski’s attorney, Tracy Miner, argued that her client was misled by other lawyers who helped him structure the ownership and management of Legion. She praised the judge for the relatively light sentence.
“We are relieved that the judge considered all of the good things that Mr. Gorski did for the community and for veterans in fashioning the sentence,” Miner said in a statement. “As Mr. Gorski himself stated, although he admittedly made mistakes, he never intended to hurt veterans, for whom he has the utmost respect.”