On Friday, February 9, 2024, the United States Attorney’s Office District of South Carolina issued a press release announcing that Peter J. Strauss, a lawyer from Beaufort, South Carolina, had pleaded guilty to removal of property to prevent seizure.

According to the press release, Strauss was the founder and managing partner of the Strauss Law Firm located in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The firm specialized in estate planning, asset protection, and captive insurance solutions. Strauss also served as the principal of Hamilton Captive Management, a company that provided management services for clients’ captive insurance funds.

The press release stated that evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that Strauss knowingly transferred millions of dollars for Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, two individuals who had been previously convicted and sentenced for their roles in the largest criminal fraud scheme in the Eastern District of California. Jeff and Paulette Carpoff owned and operated DC Solar Solutions and DC Solar Distribution, companies that designed, manufactured, and leased renewable energy products, specializing in mobile solar generators.

On December 18, 2018, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies executed numerous search warrants on businesses and residences associated with DC Solar and its principals as part of an investigation into an alleged investment fraud and money laundering scheme. Several seizure warrants were also executed on bank accounts and assets linked to DC Solar. At the time, authorities alleged that the Carpoffs committed wire fraud, and tax fraud, and diverted investor money for personal use through falsified lease agreements.

After the execution of search and seizure warrants related to the investigation into the Carpoffs and DC Solar, Strauss received $11 million transferred from the Carpoffs. On December 19, 2018, Strauss received $5 million in his IOLTA account which was then distributed to criminal defense attorneys, bankruptcy counsel, and the Carpoffs’ captive insurance funds managed by Strauss’ company. An additional $3 million was received on December 28, 2018, to pay captive insurance fund premiums.

On January 15, 2019, the Carpoffs wired another $3 million to Strauss’ IOLTA account. The funds were then combined in the account and fully spent over the next few months. By pleading guilty, Strauss admitted that by the January 15th transfer, he knowingly transferred and aided in transferring funds from the Carpoffs to prevent government seizure of assets. Strauss agreed to pay $2.7 million in restitution.

The press release detailed that Jeff Carpoff pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud in January 2020 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Paulette Carpoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy in November 2021 and was sentenced to over 11 years in prison last June. Strauss faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, restitution, and supervised release following imprisonment. A sentencing date will be set after a probation report is prepared. The FBI investigated the case, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse prosecuting.

 

 

Source: United States Attorney’s Office District of South Carolina