Federal prosecutors last week quietly dropped a criminal charge against an elderly Boca Raton millionaire they accused of laundering money for a Fort Lauderdale family of psychics charged with fleecing clients.
Peter Wolofsky, 85, had pleaded not guilty to money laundering, and prosecutors formally dropped the charge against him late last week.
Authorities seized hundreds of items of jewelry, cars and other property when they arrested the family members in late August 2011.
The prosecution estimated the items were worth several hundred thousand dollars. Schwartz estimated the value at more than $1 million.
Schwartz said the jewelry and gold coins are mostly precious heirlooms inherited from ancestors or bought with legitimate income — including millions of dollars that Rose Marks said she and other family members won playing slots at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood and a lottery at the old Seminole bingo hall. The family reported the winnings, in excess of $1 million some years, to the Internal Revenue Service, her lawyer wrote.
To bolster his arguments, Schwartz included several photographs — some more than 50 years old — of family members wearing gold jewelry and coins. He also included photos of relatives counting cash paid as part of a traditional dowry.
Under Romani tradition, brides often wear gold coins on their wedding day. The practice dates back in history to when the Roma wanted their assets easily transportable, and also to an age when people didn’t trust banks.