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Only a week after he pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges in Connecticut for stealing assets from insurance companies he controlled, financier Martin Frankel pleaded guilty to similar charges in a county court in Mississippi May 24.

Frankel, 47, admitted in Hinds County Circuit Court in Raymond, Miss. to nine counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy and one count of making false statements and representations, state Attorney General Michael Moore reports. Frankel faces up to five years in prison on each count, plus fines.

State Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn put off sentencing for a year as part of a plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors, according to Moore. As he did in federal court a week earlier, Frankel agreed to cooperate with authorities in their criminal investigation as well as in recovering the missing assets.

“The criminal investigation is ongoing, and additional charges are expected to be filed against other co-conspirators,” Moore says.

Frankel fled to Europe in 1999 shortly before federal charges were filed against him when officials of five states reported more than $200 million in assets were missing from seven insurers he controlled. After imprisonment for tax evasion in Germany, he was extradited to the U.S in March 2001.

Moore also says he has filed criminal charges against Msgr. Emilio Colagiovanni, a former Vatican official, for conspiracy, mail fraud and making false statements to insurance regulators.

An attorney for Colagiovanni, who now reportedly resides in Cleveland, did not return calls seeking comment.

On May 9, insurance commissioners of Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma sued in a U.S. District Court in Mississippi, charging that Colagiovanni and other Catholic Church officials in Rome were involved in a scheme run by Frankel to loot the seven companies.

That suit also named the Vatican as a defendant, along with Thomas Corbally, a New York consultant; Monitor Ecclesiasticus, a church foundation; and several former Frankel associates.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, June 10, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.