Sebastian John Balliro, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Attorney, was arrested on Wednesday after investigators accused him of stealing and fraudulently obtaining over $830,000. Balliro, 41, was arrested on multiple charges, including four counts of grand theft over $100,000, three counts of organized scheme to defraud of over $50,000, two counts of criminal use of personal identification information to defraud over $100,000, and one count of grand theft. He has reportedly been indicted of crimes in both Lee County and Broward County and will face prosecution in both locations.
It is not clear whether Balliro was booked into prison; sources indicate that he was taken to an area hospital as a precaution, but do not actively mention a jail. It remains unclear whether Mr. Balliro will eventually be eligible for bail bond or has retained a private criminal defense lawyer. If convicted as charged, Balliro could be facing well over a normal human lifespan in prison: many of the charges against him are first-degree felonies, and each holds a maximum 30-year prison sentence.
Before his arrest, Balliro was an attorney with two law offices, one in Fort Lauderdale and one in Fort Myers. He was reportedly admitted to the Florida Bar in 1998, when he was 27. However, he was apparently disbarred from the Bar by the Supreme Court of Florida on April 20th, likely because of the charges against him. Based on the charges against him, it is also possible that Balliro owned or was involved in an investment company (or companies) prior to his arrest.
According to news reports, Balliro was arrested after a seven-month investigation. It is unclear what caused the investigation to launch, but it reportedly concluded that Balliro was involved in three instances of fraud and theft between October 2010 and April 2012, which totaled over $830,000 in fraudulently obtained funds or goods. One of these allegedly consisted of Balliro using the identity of his law partner to fraudulently purchase vehicles, although the quantity and type of the allegedly fraudulently purchased vehicles remains unannounced. Balliro also allegedly defrauded one of his clients out of $100,000. Details of the alleged fraud remain unavailable.
Balliro also allegedly defrauded investors, who had invested in a Wolfgang Puck franchise, pain clinics, and a Racks and Tails restaurant (which has since gone defunct, sources indicate). Press sources do not specify how Balliro was involved in investments, although they do mention that ‘several of his businesses’ were investigated. None of the names of alleged victims have been released to the public. It is not clear whether any of the alleged victims plan on pursing damages.
According to press sources, Balliro attempted to jump from a moving patrol car while handcuffed after his arrest on Wednesday. The alleged escape attempt occurred at approximate 2:45 p.m. near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Wiggins Pass Road in Collier County, sources indicate. It does not appear as though anyone was badly hurt in the incident, although Balliro was later taken to an area hospital as a precaution.
Read about other Fort Lauderdale fraud cases here.