EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 3, 2013

Merrimac woman found guilty in Ponzi scheme

WOBURN — A Merrimac woman used a Ponzi scheme to steal from her clients’ life savings through a law firm she operated with her husband, and used the money to support an extravagant lifestyle that included luxury cars and trips abroad.

Lee Peck Eu Unitt, 48, of Merrimac, was found guilty this week of embezzling following a 10-day jury trial in Middlesex Superior Court on charges of felony larceny (four counts), fiduciary embezzlement and being a common and notorious thief.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m.

According to the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, Unitt used clients’ money to support an extravagant lifestyle that included family vacations to Malaysia, Cancun and Aruba, expensive cars including Hummers, Cadillacs and Land Rovers; and thousands of dollars in monthly personal expenses. The district attorney’s office said she operated a Ponzi scheme by using money from clients’ investments to pay debts due to other clients.

“The defendant violated the trust of her clients by stealing their life savings and falsifying mortgage documents,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said. “The defendant defrauded her clients, her supposed friends, and spent their money on her extravagant personal lifestyle.”

Her husband, Peter Unitt III, has also been charged with larceny over $250 (2 counts), conspiracy to larceny and embezzlement. His trial in Middlesex Superior Court is scheduled for July 15.

According to authorities, Peter Unitt practiced law at his law office in Woburn, which was known as “The Crest Group, LLC.” Lee Unitt worked at the firm as a secretary, business manager and paralegal.

In 2006, the first victim was referred to the Crest Group for legal representation following a car crash. There she met Lee Unitt, whom she was led to believe was an attorney with the firm. Unitt recommended that the victim refinance any property she owned so as to remove all equity from her holdings by taking out large property mortgages. Unitt further suggested that the victim leave the mortgage proceeds in the client trust account of the Crest Group, so the plaintiff suing the victim would not be able to get at it.

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