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Captive manager faces possible jail time over role in fraud case

Posted On: Feb. 14, 2024 11:25 AM CST


A Beaufort, South Carolina-based captive manager has pleaded guilty to helping a client shield funds from the FBI during a fraud investigation and agreed to pay $2.7 million in restitution in connection with an alleged money laundering scheme.

Peter J. Strauss, founder of Strauss Law Firm LLC and founder and CEO of Hamilton Captive Management, based in Hilton Head, pleaded guilty to removal of property to prevent seizure. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina said Friday in a statement.

Evidence revealed that Mr. Strauss “knowingly transferred millions of dollars” for Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, who were convicted and sentenced to prison in 2020 and 2022, respectively, in the Eastern District of California for their roles in an investment fraud and money laundering scheme, according to the statement.

The couple had owned and operated DC Solar Solutions Inc. and DC Solar Distribution Inc., now defunct Benicia, California-based solar power companies that were seized by the FBI in 2018.

As the investigation into the couple’s business unfolded, Mr. Strauss received $11 million from them, according to the statement. Mr. Strauss used the funds to pay various criminal defense attorneys and bankruptcy counsel and transferred funds into a captive insurer operated by the couple, which he also managed.

By pleading guilty, Mr. Strauss admitted that by the time of a $3 million transfer on Jan. 15, 2019, “he knowingly transferred and aided and abetted the transfer of funds from Carpoff to prevent and impair the government’s lawful authority to take such property into its custody and control,” the statement said.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Mr. Strauss after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.