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New Jersey Man Gets 30 Months in Prison for Stealing Florida Unclaimed Property Accounts

8/7/2007

CONTACT:  Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842 
 
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink together with Gregory R. Miller, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, and Enrique Gutierrez, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, announced today that a New Jersey man who filed fraudulent claims on two unclaimed property accounts held by the State of Florida has been sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution.
 
Arthur Vincent Coppola, Jr., 39, of Kinnelon, N.J., was sentenced in federal court on July 31.  In addition to the prison time, Coppola was ordered to pay more than $57,000 in restitution after faking the identities of two Floridians to collect more $290,000 in unclaimed cash being held by the state.
 
“This sentence sends a strong message that we will not tolerate anyone stealing from our citizens,” said CFO Sink.  “I commend everyone who worked to expose this man’s fraud and bring him to justice.”
 
The sentence follows a joint investigation by the DFS Office of Fiscal Integrity and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  A federal grand jury indicted Coppola on January 9, 2007, and charged him with three counts of mail fraud.  Coppola pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud on April 10, 2007.  
 
Coppola targeted accounts held by the DFS Bureau of Unclaimed Property for a Florida man and a woman who had nearly $292,000 in cash in unclaimed accounts turned over to the state.  Coppola submitted false claim forms to DFS through fraudulent contracts with a South Florida private investigative agency and then deposited the money into investment accounts he opened with Charles Schwab, an investment firm, using the Floridians’ personal identification information.  The DFS Office of Fiscal Integrity facilitated the recovery of more than $234,000 from Charles Schwab and the private investigative agency, and both Florida victims have since received their unclaimed cash.
 
The Office of Fiscal Integrity is responsible for statewide investigations of allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse involving State of Florida property and money.  To report fraud, waste, or abuse of State of Florida resources, call 1-800-GET-LEAN (1-800-438-5326) or the Office of Fiscal Integrity directly at 850-413-5514.

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.