|(Copyright 2001, The New York Post. All Rights Reserved)|
A trio of American fraudsters posing as fake European royalty were busted on charges they swindled more than $1 million out of unsuspecting investors, authorities said yesterday.
The three allegedly posed as a British knight, a Serbian prince and a German prince to pitch bogus "medium-term notes" to investors in a scheme dating back to 1997.
One of the men, Robert Khimchiachvili, who claimed to be "Prince Robert," is still a fugitive, officials said.
Federal investigators say Khimchiachvili who also used the name "Dr. von Badische," was really from Toledo, Ohio.
Another defendant in the case, Brian Sherry, identified himself to investors as "Prince Brian" and "Sir Brian Sherry," although he was actually from Brooklyn, sources said.
Prosecutors say they formed the "Badische Banque et Internationale Trust," which falsely claimed to move hundreds of millions of dollars of medium-term notes that brought massive profits.
In a meeting at The Waldorf hotel, they allegedly convinced one investor, Barbara Laurence, to give them roughly $500,000 as part of a plan to finance a new cable television network.
Sherry's Lawyer, Joseph Bondi, said his client had "no intent whatsoever" to defraud anyone. He also said that Laurence sent a "pseudo-gangster' to try to intimidate Sherry into giving the money back before finally going to the law.
The trio allegedly used two other men, Cesar Viana and Christopher Berwick, to lure investors to join the scheme.
Viana, Berwick, and George Englert, a k a "Prince George of Serbia," were arraigned yesterday in Manhattan federal court before Judge Nathaniel Fox. Prosecutor Tim Coleman said Englert had used a passport issued by the "Knights of Malta" identifying him as a Serbian prince.
The three men, who were released on bond, face five years in prison if convicted.