A federal judge ruled that a 78-year old Pennsylvania attorney suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease is not competent to stand trial on charges that he masterminded a $6 million Ponzi scheme. Anthony J. Lupas, a once-prominent local attorney, was facing mail fraud charges after he was accused of swindling millions of dollars from clients who thought they were investing in tax-free trusts. After holding a competency hearing in August, U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani issued an order siding with Lupas's attorneys and agreeing that Lupas had "lost his perception of reality".
Lupas is alleged to have offered clients the ability to earn a steady 5% return through an investment in tax-free trusts. This continued for years, until Lupas suffered injuries in a 2011 fall that allegedly diminished his mental faculties. After his injuries prevented him from maintaining scheduled investor payments, his son, a state court judge, allegedly discovered the scheme and alerted authorities. After an investigation, the elder Lupas was arrested and charged with 29 counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Last month, a Pennsylvania state fund supported by attorney registration fees announced it would pay $3.25 million to Lupas's victims in what Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille remarked was
one of the most egregious cases of attorney theft of clients' escrow funds that I have seen in the 20 years that I have been on the Supreme Court..."
In his order declaring Lupas unfit to stand trial, Judge Mariani made a point to clarify that Lupas had not "evaded the justice system by any means," and that his condition would be re-evaluated after he had spent several months in a local treatment facility.