ShareThis Page
News

Dormont man gets extended jail time in fraud case

Jason Cato
| Saturday, March 17, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

A federal prosecutor cautioned a judge Friday about freeing a Dormont businessman accused of masterminding two schemes totaling nearly $8 million.

"He will defraud widows if he's let out again," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Stallings.

Later in the day, U.S. Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay ordered Christopher Fekos to spend another weekend at Allegheny County Jail, but she also gave him a glimmer of hope.

Fekos, 48, will be granted home detention with electronic monitoring if he can post $250,000 bond, but that would not take effect until prosecutors have an opportunity to appeal Hay's decision.

"Should you come back again ... circumstances will certainly be different, I can tell you that," Hay told Fekos yesterday. "This is a second chance, Mr. Fekos. So I encourage you to take it and not to abuse it."

Fekos was arrested March 7 and charged with his second federal crime in less than a year.

This time, prosecutors claim, Fekos bilked a widow and her son out of about $500,000 in a scheme to acquire a South Side tavern. He is charged with bank, mail and wire fraud and with bribing a bank employee.

Fekos previously was charged with 13 counts of fraud, bribery and money laundering as the alleged kingpin of a scam that defrauded lending agencies and banks out of some $7 million -- including $1.8 million siphoned from the accounts of elderly Citizens Bank customers.

Debra Rose, of Loretto, Cambria County, testified yesterday that Fekos approached her about helping him acquire Margaritaville, a Carson Street bar and restaurant. Rose and Fekos met the day that her husband died and developed a friendship.

"Mr. Fekos led me to believe if I arranged for financial backing -- as he called it, a silent partner -- he'd pay all the bills," Rose said.

No bills have been paid since January, she said.

Rose also testified that Fekos told her the price of the restaurant was $500,000. The contract, presented in court, showed the cost was $240,000 and was being paid in monthly installments.

The government also argued that Fekos might try to flee to Chios, Greece -- the home island of his late parents where he has land, bank accounts and family.

Defense attorney Stanton Levenson said his client had plenty of time to flee before the first charges -- which Fekos knew were coming -- and didn't. With the latest charges, Levenson said he doubts the government can prove its case.

"What we have here is a business arrangement that hasn't even gone bad yet," said Levenson. "There is no reason to believe this will not be a successful business. For whatever reason, business has been slow to this point."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me