Cohort in Cook Scheme Admits He Lied About Assets

Jon Jason Greco admitted that he lied to investigators last summer about money and coins that he stashed in a Mall of America locker; but, according to the Star Tribune, he insisted in court on Monday that he didn't know they belonged to Ponzi scheme operator Trevor Cook.

An Iraq War veteran on Monday pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators as they were looking for clues related to Trevor Cook's $194 million Ponzi scheme.

Jon Jason Greco, 40, who was indicted in March, admitted that he lied to investigators on July 27, 2010, about foreign currency and coins that he had placed in a locker at the Mall of America-both of which the government wanted to seize.

On that day, Greco told investigators that the assets in question belonged to him and were a gift from his deceased uncle-but he knew the items belonged to Cook, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota.

The currency and coins together totaled about $100,000, according to the Star Tribune. Seized assets were used to repay victims of Cook's fraud scheme.

Cook pleaded guilty in April to federal criminal charges relating to the operation of a foreign currency trading scam that defrauded more than 900 investors. Last August, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Cook agreed to turn over the proceeds of the fraud.

According to the Star Tribune, in court on Monday, Greco denied knowing whether the currency and coins that he stashed at the Mall of America belonged to Cook. His denial “seemed on the verge of upending his plea agreement,” because a judge can't accept a guilty plea unless the facts show that a crime took place, according to the Minneapolis newspaper.

Last July, during a routine locker inspection, a Mall of America security guard found a black duffel bag that contained 113 gold coins, eight platinum coins, 5.6 million Iraqi dinars, 18.75 Turkish lira, and small sums of Chinese, Canadian, and Dominican currencies, the Star Tribune reported.

Greco said that he lied to investigators when he told them last summer that the money was his, but he also insisted that he wasn't providing cover for Cook, according to the newspaper.

Greco pleaded guilty Monday to one of two counts of making “materially false statements” to federal investigators. For his crime, he faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Davis will determine his sentence at a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing.

To read more about Monday's events in the courtroom via the Star Tribune, click here.