Former Exorcist/Attorney/Bishop Sentenced to 11-Year Term for Role in $6 Million Ponzi Scheme

A former New York attorney who also claimed to be a trained exorcist and bishop was sentenced to 11 years for his role in a Ponzi scheme that duped investors out of over $6 million. James Lagona received the sentence from United States District Judge William M. Skretny, who dismissed Lagona's claims that he was unaware of the fraud being perpetrated by the purported scheme mastermind, Guy Gane. Lagona also made headlines late last year after he offered a "quid pro quo" bargain to prosecutor Wiliam J. Hochul's wife, who was then a candidate for Congress, offering to throw his support behind her in exchange for favorable treatment by her husband at his upcoming sentencing. Hochul contacted the FBI, and Lagona was subsequently arrested.

Lagona was an employee at Gane's company, Watermark M-One Financial Services ("Watermark"). Potential investors were promised 10% annual returns from waterfront real estate investments, and were provided with 'debentures' evidencing their investment as proof. However, Gane made no such investments, and instead used investor funds for a variety of unauthorized uses that included Ponzi-style payments to existing investors, personal and business expenses, and cash advances to his children.

While Gane cut a deal with prosecutors, Lagona maintained his innocence and chose to stand trial with another co-defendant, Ian Gent. The decision backfired, as Gane testified against the two and a federal jury convicted the men on conspiracy and money laundering charges in February 2011. Gane was subsequently sentenced to a thirteen-year term in September 2011, and Gent received an eight-year sentence in late 2012. 

A bizarre interview featuring "Bishop" Lagona offering fortune-telling to live callers is available here. According to the bio provided by the site,

Bishop Lagona, an accomplished medium, healer and medical intuitive, has had psychic-mediumistic experiences since his early childhood. He is a Reiki Master/Teacher, and has studied psychism and mediumship, various healing modalities and energy work, crystals, dowsing, and tarot. Bishop Lagona consults with and advises various businesses and corporations on internal policies and concerns, hiring and personnel matters, stock market, Dow Jones Average and foreign currency exchange rate forecasts and predictions. He is available for your private and business consultations.

Not surprisingly, the emphasized claims were removed from 'Bishop' Lagona's bio on his personal website.

For more news and analysis of Ponzi schemes, visit Ponzitracker, a blog by Jordan Maglich, an attorney at Wiand Guerra King P.L.

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