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Longtime fugitive Eric Bartoli pleads guilty to stealing $65 million from hundreds of people

Eric V. Bartoli, who was indicted in 2003 and was a fugitive for more than a decade, pleaded guilty to defrauding hundreds of investors out of millions of dollars in the 1990s, law enforcement officials said.

Bartoli, 61, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9 after pleading guilty to eight counts, including conspiracy, securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities, wire fraud, mail fraud and attempted income tax evasion.

The guilty plea was announced by Carole S. Rendon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

Bartoli operated a large-scale Ponzi scheme from 1995 through 1999. He created and operated a company by the name of Cyprus Funds, Inc., which was based in Doylestown, Ohio and incorporated in Central America. Bartoli and his co-conspirators operated Cyprus to sell certificates of deposit and unregistered mutual funds. Cyprus raised approximately $65 million from an estimated 800 investors in Latin America and the United States. Some of Cyprus’s victims included retirees, according to court records.

Bartoli was sued in 1999 by the Securities and Exchange Commission on charges involving the Cyprus Funds, Inc. Bartoli did not appear at a scheduled hearing regarding the SEC charges. He was subsequently found in contempt of court and a civil arrest warrant was issued. Bartoli had fled Ohio and was arrested in New Hampshire. Bartoli was not detained at that time and became a fugitive.

An indictment was filed against Bartoli in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in October 2003.

Bartoli was taken into custody by the Peruvian National Police in Lima, Peru, in 2013. The operation was a joint effort between the FBI, Diplomatic Security Service, and the Peruvian National Police. He was returned to the United States last year.

“Mr. Bartoli is finally being held accountable for his crimes, more than two decades after he started stealing millions of dollars,” Rendon said. “The fact that he will finally be sentenced for his actions is a tribute to all who have worked on this case, who never stopped pursuing justice for the victims.”

“After years of living on the run, Mr. Bartoli is accepting responsibility for swindling individuals out of large sums of money – some their entire life savings,” Anthony said. “The FBI will continue to investigate fraudsters, like Eric Bartoli, and will hold them accountable for their criminal behavior, no matter how long it takes.”

“The investigation of Mr. Bartoli uncovered a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme laced with a web of financial lies that left 800 investors in financial peril,” Entstrom said. “When you knowingly mix deceit and trickery into the financial well-being of individuals, you create a recipe for devastation that could last a lifetime. Combining the financial investigative expertise of the IRS with the skills and resources of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office makes a formidable team for combating major, greed-driven crimes.”

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antoinette T. Bacon and Christos M. Georgalis following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.