A West Palm Beach woman is out millions of dollars after she invested with a man whom she met at a bar. David Cohen managed to convince Tania Deutsch to invest in marijuana operations in New England and Royal Palm Beach townhomes. But she never saw a cent of return on her investment. Now Cohen is facing multiple criminal charges for fraud after the woman put him in charge of her brokerage account.
When she began investing with Cohen, her stake was $3 million. After he was done with her money, only $50,000 remained. The woman said she had so little money left that she was unable to fly home to Chile for her mother’s funeral.
Where Did the Money Go?
David Cohen has been charged in the $1.45 million fraud. He’s accused of not using the money for the purpose that it was given. Under the law, that constitutes fraud. He’s accused of money laundering, conducting an organized scheme to defraud $50,000 or more, and two counts of grand theft of more than $100,000. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been released on a $60,000 bond.
Cohen responded to the charges by saying that he earnestly invested the woman’s money in the very enterprises he told her about, but the venture went south and the investments didn’t pay off. The question is whether or not Cohen acted in good faith with the money he was given. He is arguing that he is a poor investor with the right intentions as opposed to a skilled conman with bad intentions. It makes legal sense to argue this as a defense to fraud charges which require criminal intent. Cohen was not a registered broker at the time of the transactions, a fact that Deutsch failed to discover until after her money was gone. Deutsch told authorities that Cohen gave her the impression that he was a licensed investor. However, Cohen says he was very clear that he wasn’t a licensed investor and that the investments that he was proposing didn’t require any licensure, so it didn’t matter.
The problem is that anyone can approach anyone else and say, “Hey, let’s go in on this investment together.” The two then become the equivalent of partners, and there is no broker/client fiduciary responsibility involved. If that’s true, then Cohen may not have actually committed a crime, if all he did was make a bad investment. But Cohen did more than that. In fact, he managed a brokerage fund for the victim which is a broker activity.
Further upsetting Cohen’s defense is how the money was managed. Cohen’s company had about $1,500 in the account when Deutsch wired him $1.2 million. That money was then transferred into Cohen’s personal account. Cohen and his attorney insist the transactions were “transparent”.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. represents those charged with criminal offenses. Call our West Palm Beach criminal attorneys today to learn more about how we can protect your future.