Monday 20 November 2017

'Devil's Advocate' sentenced to 14 years

Helen William

A bogus lawyer who once represented gangland criminal John Gilligan has been sentenced to 14 years in jail for a series of frauds on "desperate and vulnerable victims" whom he tricked into thinking he was a bona fide legal professional.

Giovanni di Stefano (57), who became known as the 'Devil's Advocate' for taking on "unwinnable" cases, was convicted on 25 charges including deception, fraud and money laundering between 2001 and 2011 at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to another two counts of fraud and a further three counts were ordered to lie on file.

The judge noted the fact the victims, which included a disabled man seeking damages for the loss of an arm, were all "desperate and vulnerable" and faced losses that were not just financial but also included the "raising and dashing of false hope".

He conned clients out of millions by setting himself up as a lawyer when he had no legal qualifications and was not registered to work as a lawyer in Italy or the UK.

The judge told Di Stefano: "I recognise that you did not actively seek out those whom you defrauded. They came to you. You did not approach them but there is more than one kind of predator."

Irish Independent

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