A San Francisco man will defend himself in a two-decades-old fraud case in Arizona while local investors are getting nervous that they cannot retrieve hundreds of thousands of dollars given to the man.
Giuseppe Viola, 58, was arrested March 10 by San Francisco police and charged with two counts of resisting arrest. The arrest stemmed from a $471,000 warrant out of Arizona from a fraud case in 1990, authorities said.
Viola originally claimed that authorities had the wrong man. In March, he challenged prosecutors, saying he was not the man wanted on that warrant, but on Tuesday, he dropped that objection — still claiming they had the wrong man — and agreed to fight the case in Arizona.
In the meantime, several people who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the man in what they thought were sound investments have been unable to get their money back.
The FBI has been interviewing those alleged victims. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is also involved, although neither agency would comment on the case. There have been no charges related to the San Francisco investments.
Stephen Oerth of El Cajon said his San Francisco-based parents gave Viola about $200,000 and have been unable to get their money back to help pay for a nursing home for his father.
“We met with [Viola] a few weeks ago at Caffe Roma and he looked good and was as forthcoming as could be,” Oerth said. “The next thing we know, he’s in jail, and we don’t know what’s happened to the money.”