Tullio Andrew Ragusin, fake lawyer, accused of milking victims for $400,000 -- with a helluva lot of style

Categories: Colorado Crimes

Andrew Ragusin.jpg
Tullio Andrew Ragusin must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.
Tullio Andrew Ragusin has such big balls that they probably should have been charged as co-defendants in the criminal-impersonation and theft case that will bring him to court later today.

"He has portrayed himself as not only being a licensed attorney here in Colorado but also an international attorney trained in Belgium," says Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office. "He would hang his shingle out for folks who would come to him for a variety of legal services, and he would take their money and their fees and either not do what he said he was going to do, or do some semblance of it poorly."

While the ruse lasted, though, it was quite a ride. The Denver DA's office estimates his ill-gotten gains at around $400,000, which bought him a lavish lifestyle, international travel and more. Look below for details about how he allegedly pulled it off:

The website for the Rocky Mountain Italian-American Chamber of Commerce offers a glimpse at how Ragusin portrayed himself. Here's his impressive "bio:"

Andrew T. Ragusin

Interim President of the Board of Directors

Andrew Ragusin is European Counsel to a number of corporations in Colorado and a dual U.S. and Italian citizen, born in Trieste, Italy, and educated in Brussels, Belgium and Dallas, Texas. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver College of Law, where he has taught, among others, in the areas of European Union Law, International Mergers and Acquisitions. Mr. Ragusin has worked on the representation of U.S. companies and individuals in business or corporate ventures in Italy. He currently owns his own practice, Ragusin and Associates in Denver.

Court documents tell quite a different story. Check out the following account of one long-running scheme involving apparently duped clients here and in Italy:

Alberta Rivera, Marisa Costabile, and Family

On or about 8/18/06, Marisa Costabile (Costabile) and Albert Rivera (her brother) on behalf of their United States and Italian relatives Liliana Wood, Jose Fernando Rivera, Graziella Valeza , and Stefano Mecatti (jointly referred to herein as "the Rivera family"), hired Ragusin, dba Ragusin and Associates later known as Ragusin International Association LLC, to advice the Rivera family on the identification and disposition of their deceased mother's (Maria Rosa Rivera Pinna) Italian properties. Ragusin told Costabile and Rivera that Ragusin was an international attorney who could represent the Rivera family in Italy on their property issues. Ragusin was in part to investigate the property records, obtain an appraisal of the properties located, provide a legal analysis and recommendations regarding a course of action to take in the Estate's disposition, handle all probate and judicial formalities in Italy, and negotiate any settlements pertaining to the properties, all on behalf of the Rivera family. From 2006 to 2010, Ragusin executed powers of attorney with the Rivera family members, wrote and allegedly filed or obtained court orders in Italy, wrote demand letters to defendants, allegedly filed criminal complaints against the Italian defendants, and allegedly attached defendants' assets.

In September 2006, Ragusin reported to the Rivera family that fraud had occurred related to the conveyance of some of the Estate's properties; properties potentially worth millions of dollars. In June 2007, Ragusin advised Costabile and Rivera that the Rivera family should form the Colorado LLC (Pinna Litigation Management LLC) for tax purposes. Ragusin advised the Rivera family on the Colorado LLC's formation. Ragusin never told Costabile or Rivera that Ragusin was not a licensed Colorado attorney or enjoined by ARC from operating a foreign legal consulting firm. In the fall of 2007, Costabile and Rivera's Italian family members, Stefano Mecatti and Graziella Valenza, joined the lawsuit. Ragusin continued to bill the Rivera family for multiple trips to Itay for "court apperaances" and "negotiations," which per their current Italian counsel, Ragusin never appeared for or which never took place. Ragusin also billed the Rivera familyi for the work of his Italian "co-counsels." Ragusin hired the Gianni Firm, Ms. Rizzo, Mr. Balestrazzi and Andrea Zugo. Ragusin billed the Rivera family for the co-counsels work and was suposed to pay to these co-counsels, but did not pay Gianni, Rizzo or Balestrazzi; and only partially paid Zugno.

In August 2009, Ragusin told the Rivera family that he had obtained a multi-million Euro settlement agreement with the Italian parties. Albert and Jose Rivera flew to Milan, Italy with Ragusin to meet with the Italian family members and interview banks in anticipation of the settlement. On or about 01/25-10, Ragusin was arrested for allegations of felony Criminal Impersonation and Theft. On or about 02/03/10, the Rivera family terminated Ragusin. Since then, Costabile and Rivera have learned that Ragusin never filed a settlement agreement in the Italian courts, documents provided by Ragusin (one purportedly signed by an Italian judge) were false, and Ragusin did not do most of the work he billed the Rivera family for.

From 08/23/06 to 01/19/10, Costabile and Rivera paid Ragusin a total of approximately $134,538.97 by check, wire, or credit card as their partial payment for Ragusin's legal services and expenses... Because the Rivera family's Italian members -- Stefano Mecatti and Graziella Valenza -- joined the lawsuit in the fall of 2007, Ragusin also billed them separately in addition to the monies paid by Costabile and Rivera. Your affiant does not have bank records from Mecatti or Valenza at this time. Costabile and Rivera estimated that since Valenza's billing amount was equal to their payments to Ragusin, Valenza paid Ragusin directly at least $100,000.00 for legal fees and costs. Mecatti's billing amount was lower than Valenz and Costabile/Rivera. Based on Ragusin's invoices dated 3./12/08 to 1/15/10 that list a billing amount to Mecatti, your affiant estimates Ragusin invoiced Mecatti for approximately $40,000.00 in legal fees and costs...

It's unlikely that these folks will see any of their lost cash again -- but Ragusin will see the inside of a courtroom today. Here's the Denver DA's Office release spelling out the details:

NEW CASE FILED AGAINST MAN ACCUSED OF PORTRAYING HIMSELF AS A LAWYER

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey has formally charged a man with 20 new felony counts, accusing him of portraying himself as a lawyer and stealing money from his "clients."

Tullio Andrew Ragusin (dob: 05-23-57) was charged last week with eleven counts of criminal impersonation (F6) and nine counts of theft-series (F3 and F4).

The charges, similar in nature to an earlier case filed against Ragusin, allege that he portrayed himself as a licensed attorney and charged nearly a dozen victims for legal services that were never performed or were performed incorrectly or incompletely. Losses to victims are estimated to be more than $400,000.

Ragusin remains in custody in the Denver County Jail. His bond in the new case is set at $100,000; his bond in the earlier case is also set at $100,000. He is scheduled to appear in Denver County Court, room 472W, at 1:30 p.m. March 24, 2010, to be advised of the new charges.

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