(STL.News) – An Ohio man was sentenced yesterday in connection with a decade-long investment fraud scheme in which he defrauded more than 40 people of more than $2.5 million, and concealed more than 20 vehicles purchased with some of the victim funds.
Stephan Kuljko Jr., 61, of Stow, Ohio, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge Mark L. Wolf to 156 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,772,160 in restitution. In August 2019, Kuljko was convicted by a federal jury after a two-week trial of four counts of wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.
From 2006 through 2017, Kuljko spun a false story about himself as a wealthy man who won millions in the Ohio Lottery that he turned into hundreds of millions by investing in a Texas oil business and casinos. Kuljko solicited money from people by telling them that his vast fortune had been frozen in a bank account because of problems with the IRS, and that he needed money to pay for lawyers and to travel around the world to try to free up those funds. Kuljko operated his scheme mostly behind the scenes, using an associate in Arizona to solicit funds. Victims were promised huge returns, in many cases more than a million dollars for providing tens of thousands to assist Kuljko. The scheme also involved soliciting money to obtain and market what Kuljko represented as an extremely valuable, large uncut emerald. As with his other representations, the emerald deal was fictitious. In fact, the evidence at trial established that Kuljko had never won the lottery or invested in any Texas oil venture, had no bank account nor hundreds of millions of dollars, and the IRS was not tying up any of his money. Kuljko instead worked out of his home, buying and selling things like used snow blowers and rototillers.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild and Mark J. Balthazard of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.