Robert Lis was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida late last week on outstanding federal charges of fraud, according to news reports. Lis, 34, is facing numerous charges ranging from failure to file income taxes to defrauding investors to making ‘suspicious’ financial transactions at casinos. Lis remains incarcerated in Broward County for his own safety, since he told authorities that he fears the mob is after him. He faces extradition to New York to face charges, but may be prosecuted in South Florida as well.
According to news reports, Lis is facing prosecution for several different alleged offenses. Investigators allegege that over the course of three years, Lis made transactions totaling around $2.4 million at various New York banks. Lis allegedly made sure to make deposits of $10,000 or less so that banks were not required to report the transactions to the government. It is not known whether the funds remain in the bank or have since been spent.
It is not clear why the transactions are considered suspect, although sources indicate that Lis claims to make $150,000 a year and not have any assets. It is not clear where the funds for the transactions may have come from. Lis is facing charges for not having filed tax forms since 2006, according to reports, so it is difficult to determine the source of the funds.
Additionally, investigators allege that Lis attempted to use casinos to commit what, as of now, are unclear offenses. Lis allegedly habitually gambled sums of over $100,000 broken down into small denominations, then cashed out using traveler’s checks or $100 bills after gambling for a short while. Although news reports do not specify the purpose of such transactions, which are not technically illegal, prosecutors apparently find them suspect.
Lis is also apparently facing legal action because of alleged inappropriate activity through East Coast Venture Group. Lis, who presumably runs the group, allegedly told investors that he could get them at least 5% returns but failed to deliver. Lis is also reportedly facing prosecution for large-scale marijuana dealing, identity theft, bank fraud, and mortgage fraud.
Sources indicate that Lis was apprehended at his home in Pembroke Pines, where he reportedly lives with his girlfriend and his dog. He was apprehended shortly before 7:00 a.m. last Tuesday by a group of 11 law enforcement officers, according to news reports. Lis reportedly ran from his home during the arrest, climbing two fences before he was apprehended. He later told investigators that he had thought that the law enforcement officials were with the mob, to whom Lis reportedly owes approximately $2.5 million. Lis reportedly stated later in court that he was relieved when he realized that the officers were with law enforcement.
Some officials are skeptical of Lis’ claims. “The problem is that organized crime families don’t show up in Pembroke Pines police cruisers and IRS jackets. The other thing is they probably don’t ring the doorbell,” one officer purportedly commented. However, Lis evidently did have reason to worry: organized crime affiliates allegedly left threatening notes for Lis’ girlfriend’s mother and visited Lis’ father’s home in Delray Beach. It does not appear as though any of Lis’ friends and family have been hurt by organized crime entities.