The Norman Transcript


September 29, 2012

Miss. ending insurance fraud suit


JACKSON, Miss. —

The lawsuit said Colagiovanni agreed to use the Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation and its Vatican bank account to work with St. Francis and to vouch for Frankel’s charity with regulators. In exchange, Colagiovanni was to get $5 million to use on charitable projects, court records said.

A federal judge in Connecticut fined Colagiovanni $15,000 and gave him a suspended sentence in 2002 after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. He was given probation on state charges in Mississippi the same year after prosecutors said he cooperated with the investigation.

The Vatican was added as a defendant in 2002, with Mississippi insurance officials saying Colagiovanni was acting as an agent of the Vatican.

The claims against the Vatican were dropped in February. At that time, a lawyer for Mississippi said the plaintiffs stood by the allegations against the Vatican and dropped it from the lawsuit only to avoid an even longer fight over jurisdiction. The Vatican is recognized as a sovereign state.

A Vatican attorney, however, said at the time the dismissal showed that the “Holy See had nothing to do with Frankel’s scheme” and that Frankel duped Colagiovanni.

Frankel was not a defendant in the lawsuit in Mississippi. His assets, including hundreds of diamonds, 21 cars and SUVs, an airplane and two mansions were auctioned off years ago to provide restitution.

Frankel set fire to one of his mansions and fled the country in 1999. Authorities searching the mansion found a to-do list at the Connecticut home with the top priority listed as “Launder more money NOW.” He was arrested in Germany four months later. He pleaded guilty to 24 counts of fraud and racketeering in 2002.

Frankel is serving a nearly 17-year federal sentence. He’s scheduled for release in 2015.

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