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Attorney to argue against prison for Podlucky's wife

Friday, April 20, 2012
 

The attorney for Karla Podlucky said that because of her fundamentalist Christian beliefs, she never doubted that her husband's purchase of $33 million worth of gems and jewelry was the result of business success rather than fraud.

When the Ligonier woman is sentenced next week for her conviction for money laundering, attorney Melvin Vatz of Pittsburgh will try to persuade federal Judge Alan Bloch that the 50-year-old's only offense was being "an unfailingly devoted wife to her husband," Gregory Podlucky, the former CEO of LeNature's Inc., a Latrobe bottling and beverage company.

"A prison sentence is unnecessary to add to that loss or to punish her further," Vatz said.

Karla Podlucky and her son, Jesse, 31, were convicted of money laundering in a scheme to sell gemstones through Sotheby's in New York to subsidize a lavish lifestyle that included luxury cars, a mansion, property and a stash of $33 million worth of precious gems and jewelry kept in a secret room at LeNature's headquarters.

On Wednesday, the government filed a motion to seize $1.4 million in cash from the Podluckys and their son, who also faces sentencing on Thursday for selling a hidden cache of gems through Sotheby's to pay for Gregory Podlucky's legal fees and high-end furniture.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Y. Garrett asked a judge to allow the government to seize the money, which was part of $2.8 million the Podluckys received from selling the jewels in 2009 and 2010. Garrett said they spent $1.4 million of the proceeds on luxury items and personal expenses.

Karla Podlucky's religious beliefs were "deeply rooted" in the Bible which, Vatz said, requires a wife to be submissive to her husband. Vatz said that explains why she never questioned her husband about the purchase of large quantities of precious stones and gems, according to federal prosecutors.

"Her ideology has always been that a wife's role is to submit to that of her husband," Vatz wrote. "She expected her husband to be acting in the best interests of the family, as was his role. She realizes now that he did not."

Vatz said the Podluckys did not have a "storybook marriage."

Gregory Podlucky was a heavy drinker who could be charismatic at one moment and violent the next, according to a sentencing memorandum Vatz filed on Karla's Podlucky's behalf.

Vatz described Gregory Podlucky as man only a psychiatrist could explain: "brilliant, obsessive, narcissistic, conniving, manipulative, domineering and explosive ... " he wrote, and his fits of rage forced his family to tread lightly for fear of provoking his temper.

Divorce was not an option, Vatz said.

Gregory Podlucky is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to stealing $856 million from banks and other lenders as part of a Ponzi scheme to keep his failing company afloat through new loans.

The former CPA kept a second set of financial records that made LeNature's appear profitable and growing to investors when, in fact, it was foundering in deep debt.

 

 
 


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