A Beckley, WV man was arrested today on charges he tried to scam foreign art lovers into wiring him millions for two of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, the US Attorney's office reports.
Todd Andrew "Mordokwan" Desper's arrest is the culmination of an investigation in which the Gardner's security director was brought in to communicate with him in an attempt to determine if he actually had the paintings (spoiler: He didn't). Desper, 47, was arrested at his home. He is scheduled for arraignment in US District Court in Boston on June 9.
According to the US Attorney's office:
Desper, acting under the pseudonym “Mordokwan,” solicited buyers for both the Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert on Craigslist in a number of foreign cities including Venice and London. Desper directed interested buyers to create an encrypted email account to communicate with him. Authorities were notified of the foreign Craigslist notices by individuals seeking to assist in the recovery of the artwork, as well as those seeking the $5 million reward offered by the Museum.
At the direction of federal authorities, the security director for the Gardner Museum engaged in encrypted communications with Desper in an attempt to determine whether Desper had access to the stolen masterpieces. Desper allegedly instructed him to send a cashier’s check for $5 million to a location in West Virginia and that Storm on the Sea of Galilee would then be sent in return, concealed behind another painting.
It is alleged that the investigation ultimately revealed that Desper had no access to, nor information about, the stolen paintings, but was instead engaged in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme targeting foreign art buyers.
Yasuna Murakami, 44, of Cambridge, was arrested at the Canadian border Saturday on a wire-fraud charge that could mean up to 20 years in federal prison, as he tried to re-enter the US, the US Attorney's office reports.
The charges come about 18 months after the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office sued Murakami over the heavy losses incurred by the funds he oversaw.
The feds say Murakami sucked millions of dollars out of three hedge funds he operated - MC2 Capital Partners Fund, MC2 Capital Value Fund, and MC2 Capital Canadian Opportunities Fund - and used them in part for "lavish personal expenses such as a luxury sports car, international travel, and payments to personal credit cards and high-end department stores." Murakami, a graduate of Suffolk University's Sawyer Business School, used new investments from clients to pay off some initial investors, the US Attorney's office says.
The state alleges he stole $15.3 million from 47 investors - an "almost total loss of investors' equity." His partner and his partner's family invested at least $2.6 million in the ventures, the state alleges.
The US Attorney's office adds:
As part of the fraud, it is also alleged that Murakami withheld material information regarding the management of the MC2 Canadian Opportunities Fund and provided investors with falsified account statements and tax documentation in an effort to lull them into believing their investments were safe.
In addition to the state suit and the federal criminal charge, the SEC today filed its own lawsuit against him.
The Boston Licensing Board last week meted out seven days of suspension for Agoros Bar and Grill, 356 Chestnut Hill Ave. for incidents in February and April in which BPD detectives found underage college students quaffing beers.
Separately, the board ordered a one-day shutdown for Cure Lounge, 246 Tremont St., for a similar offense.
In hearings on the Agoros incidents, detectives testified that on Feb. 17, they found a woman, with a fake West Virginia ID, hoisting a friend's beer to her lips during a routine inspection, and that on April 6, they found two young men sitting at the bar with Bud Lights after they snuck into the place.
Agoros co-owner Dimitrios Liakos told the board he spent three weeks working the door himself, was shocked at the vast number of underage BC students - 200 to 250 a night - trying to sneak in and was wracking his brain trying to come up with ways to stop even more of them. He said that he had personally blocked one of the two guys, but that he went to the all-ages pizza part of the restaurant, then snuck into the bar (the other waited out back until a worker opened the door to toss some trash, then rushed in).
The suspensions do not take place immediately, and Liakos can appeal the suspensions to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Roving UHub photographer Michael Halle was on hand to watch a train pull out of the new Boston Landing station on the Worcester Line this morning. New Balance paid for the station, which services both its large development along Guest Street and the rest of Brighton, which hadn't seen commuter-rail service in decades.
Gerald Chan, who bought up large chunks of Harvard Square, has plunked down $17 million to buy the 4.7-acre Spire Printing Co. property on Bay Street, next to the Savin Hill T stop, BLDUP.com reports. In 2015, he bought a two-acre parcel nearby on Dewar Street.
Both are within a short walk of the impending DotBlock development on Dorchester Avenue - which he also now owns a piece of.