A master swindler who left a trail of hundreds of victims across the United States and Canada has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges.
Franklin Cristiano, 47, of Cleveland signed an agreement Thursday to plead guilty to three felonies, one count of wire fraud and two counts of aiding in the filing of false tax returns and a misdemeanor charge of failure to file a tax return.U.S. District Judge James L. Graham later this month is to sentence Cristiano, who faces up to 12 years in prison.
Cristiano was arrested June 9 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Red Deer, Alberta, where he was living under an assumed name. He was deported to the United States after pleading guilty to unlawful personation.
Authorities estimate Cristiano used a variety of schemes to defraud hundreds of people, some of them his own relatives, of tens of millions of dollars.
The schemes included the sale of art, tax shelters, fraudulent pension investments and shares in fake pizza and medical equipment franchises, authorities said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Harris said he apparently has spent all the money and will be unable to repay his victims.