Athens, Aegis, Heritage America . . .
Not the Place to Put Your Trust
By: Bill E. Branscum
Copyright 2004-2007

Some of the Country's most infamous tax scheme promoters are finally being shut down, perhaps putting an end to the pernicious rumor that the government has allowed them to keep passing out the Kool-Aid, so the IRS could keep tallying the body count.

The principals behind the Aegis Trust, Athens Trust, and Heritage America Trust programs have been indicted, arrested and their records have been seized. The government has expressed the intention to seize their assets as well. Michael A. Vallone, described as a founder, director, and principal of the scheme; Edward B. Bartoli, a former South Carolina attorney, also described as a founder, principal, and legal director of Aegis; Robert W. Hopper of Gadsden, Alabama, another founder and also a managing director of Aegis; Timothy Shawn Dunn of Chesterton, Indiana, a certified financial planner who promoted and managed Aegis trusts; William S. Cover of Naperville, Illinois, President of Sigma Resource Management, an alleged trust manager for Aegis; and David E. Parker of Williamsville, NY, an attorney who served as legal director of Aegis Management Company, were all named in the initial Indictment.

The Superseding Indictment named Illinois attorney John C. Stambulis, and Aegis promoter Michael T. Dowd of Glenview, Illinois, as well.

This ridiculous party is over; if there really are fifty-five hundred Aegis Clients out there, it is going to be quite a mess.

The "spin off" cases have already begun. In addition to the Principals, various CPA's touting their trust programs have been busted as well. Michael J. Maricle, Laura M. Baxter, Donald J. Todd, Robert J. Clausing, . . . and a separate prosecution in Cincinnatti involving: Wilson Moss Graham of Mason, Ohio; Mitchell R. Graham of Loveland, Ohio; Homer Lee Richardson of Loveland, Ohio; Barton L. Richardson of Lebanon, Ohio; Robert L. West, a certified financial planner of Castle Rock, Colorado; and Robert C. Welti, an accountant from Riply, Ohio.

As the government works their way through the Aegis, Athens and Heritage America network, the CPA's selling this program will fall as will those who used these programs, innocently or deliberately, to commit significant tax fraud. Once the principals are convicted (King Leonidas couldn't defend this), I think we can expect the government to flip them, and use their testimony to prosecute their network of CPA's, Clients, and their extended Clients (Clients of networked CPAs).

Their Clients who are wealthy, well known celebrities, or other hi-profile persons of interest are living on borrowed time.

DOJ Press Release


Superseding Indictment

Arrest Warrant - Michael Vallone

UPDATE: My E-Discovery just arrived.

500 Gigabyte Lacie Drive

If you get involved in the defense of one of the Aegis Trust, Athens Trust, or Heritage America Clients, stand by for Discovery. It won't be one of those truckload discovery deliveries that we are all familiar with - a truck wouldn't hold all this stuff.

Instead, I received a small, but heavy little package holding a 500 GB Lacie drive. To put that in perspective, it would take a team of investigators more than ten years just to glance at every page.

Using CaseMap to Mange Discovery

One thing is for certain, being able to peak thru the portal into the inner workings of this scam, and the mopes who promoted it, is fascinating.

For example, Attorney Edward B. Bartoli, the sophisticated legal expert, and financial advisor upon whose credibility Vallone and company relied, filed a financial affidavit that his Clients should have seen before they entrusted him with their finances . . . he lives on Social Security checks of $526 a month, he reports assets of $1500 cash on hand, and his lifestyle is apparently subsidized by the occasional hand out from his wife.

Bartoli Financial Affidavit

Computer forensics is . . . well, "wonderful," or "frightening" depending upon your perspective. Of the images on his various computers, the picture of Michael Vallone as "Captain Vallone" struck me as hysterically humorous.

I particularly enjoyed the E-mail from Robert Hopper to Michael Vallone regarding Vallone's "arrogant, arbitrary, sociopathic tendencies."

E-Mail from Hopper to Vallone

Hopper's closing remark to Vallone could easily be read as a pointed double entendre, assuming Hopper was privy to the extraordinary collection of pornography that Vallone kept on his computer. I cannot publish any of his pictures, and wouldn't if I could, but suffice it to say that the lovely young "ladies" that dominate his fantasies are all rather remarkably, not to mention "unusually," well endowed.

Then there are those pictures that appear homemade. I can only say, "Michael, some people simply will never look good in a wig, garters and hose."

They should have put it on the cover of the Aegis Manual, "Let Captain Vallone take you and your finances where no man has ever gone before."

I'll not apologize for deliberately ridiculing this clown. Can't you just picture this self-professed tax expert in his Star Trek uniform, drooling over pics of "Julie's Johnson," while arrogantly insisting that he has the expertise necessary to be managing other people's money, notwithstanding the fact that no competent CPA, or ethical lawyer with any sense, could possibly endorse the programs he promoted.

This knucklehead had no business leading hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of trusting people down the path to their destruction. When the indictments, arrests, criminal prosecutions, criminal convictions, incarcerations, fines, penalties and forfeitures are all said and done, I suspect that it will be hard to find anyone of their Clients who does not regret entrusting their finances to the "Man who would be Queen."

Make no mistake about it, there will be hell to pay. The government has the lists of everyone who so much as communicated with these people. In analyzing the Discovery in this case, we have identified hundreds of potential witnesses; the records include their names, personal information, contact points, family members, and in depth information pertaining to their assets and finances - not to mention the specific details of the "asset strategies" and "tax plans" that these people bought into.

Anyone who thinks the government is not going through this material, and putting together a hit list, is the king of wishful thinking.

Those of you who handle these sorts of cases can expect to be hearing from some of these people.

UPDATE - This is an interesting article. Unless I am very much mistaken, this portends the developments I would expect in the future. Specifically, while the government works on prosecuting the promoters (Vallone, Bartolli, et al.) some of the "professionals" involved in promotion of these schemes will see the writing on the wall and "roll over" in exchange for a deal. Unfortunately, that "rolling" goes both ways - just as they will say whatever they need to say to implicate the principals behind this scheme above them, they can also be expected to roll downward, serving the government's interests by testifying against their own Clients. They will betray the very people that they defrauded, the very people who trusted them, and paid them lots of money, to create a tax strategy that they assured them would be legal, and viable.

News Article - Maricle the Snitch

Now before anyone writes me nastygrams, I have nothing against a cooperating defendant - so long as he tells the truth.

In fact, I have had Clients who were victimized by tax scheme promoters and sought help when the government began questioning their tax strategies. In cases like that, I have been known to initiate various UC operations targeting their promoters, the objective being to document the snake oil these con men were selling, putting us in the best possible position to "throw the mutts under the bus" in exchange for a deal.

To me, in the world of "Proffers" where, "The first cowboy with the cash gets the saddle," that makes nothing but sense.

Whether they are innocent scam victims unwittingly engaged in criminal activity, or the masterminds themselves, when potential defendants see the error of their ways and choose (quite reasonably) to minimize their exposure by honestly assisting the government in prosecuting the guilty, that's one thing. On the other hand, lets keep in mind that tax scheme promoters like Michael Maricle are professional con artists who make their living by lying. When they roll over, the government often winds up with whores who are willing to say whatever the government wants to hear.

Wayne C. Rebuck immediately comes to mind. You should have seen that used car salesman turned Commonwealth Trust tax scheme promoter roll over, testifying that his Clients always knew that what they were doing was an illegal tax scheme. Claiming to have been a minister, who somehow lost his way, he explained that his testimony was an effort to get right with Jesus.

Yessiree . . . Welcome to Reverend Rebuck's Holy Rollin Salvation Show.

More on Rebuck

As for Michael J. Maricle, before anyone need think about standing up for this mope, you'd do well to research the trial of L.D. Stewart. Maricle was the government's star witness, and he did a fine job explaining to all and sundry that Mr. Stewart was a really nasty villain. Somehow, in his effort to get right with Jesus, the penitent Michael Maricle must have forgotten to tell the government that he had also embezzled a whole lot of Mr. Stewart's money.

I guess he thought nobody would notice.

The defense did discover it, and when they brought it up at trial, Maricle was exposed for what he was. Mr. Stewart was acquiited, and I believe that Mr. Maricle's utility to the government thus evaporated forever.

Maricle was sentenced to serve thirty months.

UPDATE: May 20, 2008 -- Justice by Jury; Convictions

Michael Vallone, Edward Bartoli, Robert Hopper, Timothy Dunn, Michael Dowd and William Cover were convicted in federal court regarding their tax scheme promotion. I wonder which of these clowns will seek to reduce his sentence by testifying for the government against the people who trusted them enough to buy into their nonsense.

News Article - Chicago Tribune Reports Convictions

Vallone's Motion to be Released Pending Sentencing


Oracle International
Bill E. Branscum, Investigator
(239) 304-1639



Visitor Number
© Copyright 2002 - Bill E. Branscum. All Rights Reserved.