LeNature’s fraud case

A federal jury took about six hours to convict the wife and son of the former head of LeNature’s Inc. on money-laundering charges in what could conclude the fraud saga that destroyed the company.


Twelve jurors on Tuesday found G. Jesse Podlucky, 30, of Ligonier guilty on all counts — one charge of conspiracy and four charges of money laundering. They acquitted Karla Podlucky, 50, of Ligonier on a conspiracy charge and one money-laundering charge, but convicted her on three other money-laundering counts.

“This verdict is another crystal clear message that honest citizens are fed up with the likes of those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets,” said Thomas Jankowski, special agent in charge of criminal investigation at the Internal Revenue Service’s Pittsburgh office.

Melvin Vatz, the attorney for Karla Podlucky, and Stephen Capone, the attorney for Jesse Podlucky, said it’s too early to say whether either Podlucky will appeal the verdicts. The Podluckys declined comment as they left the courtroom.

They helped former CEO Gregory Podlucky, 51, of Ligonier, auction off $2.9 million worth of diamonds and sapphires to help cover his legal costs and other expenses, prosecutors say. Gregory Podlucky bought the gems with money he bilked from investors who thought they were putting it into a growing and profitable bottling company. Instead, he kept part of the money for himself and used some of it to give earlier investors a “return” on their investment.

His wife and son admitted during the trial that he scammed investors, but claimed they didn’t know that when they helped him sell the gems and move the money through several accounts to hide it from government investigators.

The four-week trial was the last prosecution resulting from the five-year investigation of the $856 million Ponzi scheme. Gregory Podlucky pleaded guilty in June to bank, wire, mail and tax fraud and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. Other company executives and business consultants charged with participating in the fraud have either pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury and are awaiting sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Garrett didn’t close the door on other possible indictments, but said the verdicts are a “turning in the road.” For the first time in months, he said, he isn’t preparing for a trial related to the LeNature’s investigation.

“Since March, this has been my life,” he said. “It’s certainly been an all-consuming experience.”

U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch scheduled the sentencings for Karla and Jesse Podlucky for April 26. He ordered them to remain on home detention with electronic monitoring.

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