Former organized crime enforcer and federal informant Anthony M. Sarivola pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month to one count of wire fraud in his attempt to buy a financially troubled Western Maryland commuter airline.
Sarivola, 36, entered a guilty plea Oct. 16 before U.S. Judge Frederic N. Smalkin in Baltimore, changing his earlier plea of not nTC guilty. He is to be sentenced Jan. 17 and could receive up to five years and a $1,000 fine.
Using the alias Anthony Steele, Sarivola was charged with purchasing Cumberland Airlines from Alfred D. Nicholson using fraudulent financial documents in February 1990.
Sarivola wired Mr. Nicholson financial documents showing that the shareholders' equity in Sarivola's company, Coastal Maine Holdings, was worth more than $43 million and the company's total assets were $56 million, court documents state.
Sarivola promised to pay $50,000 to shareholders in Cumberland Airlines, along with 250,000 shares of Coastal Maine stock. Mr. Nicholson said he was told the stock was worth about $4 a share at the time. In return, Sarivola would get Cumberland Airlines and its assets, which primarily consisted of a flight school and about 13 single- and twin-engine airplanes.
But the indictment says the Coastal Maine stock was worthless. The deal was voided, but Sarivola had already depleted most of Cumberland Airlines' assets by traveling around the country at the company's expense. The planes were later repossessed by a Baltimore bank and the company went out of business.
Sarivola was arrested March 12, 1991, by FBI agents.
He has a trail of scams he is charged with running across the country. He is wanted in Everett, Wash., on numerous charges of theft and writing bad checks in connection with an operation in which he allegedly guaranteed that for a fee he could get financing for people who needed money, usually for a business deal.
He also attempted to purchase Braniff Airlines and the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, a major film company that later declared bankruptcy.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges in August 1990 against Sarivola. The agency said he had violated anti-fraud provisions of securities law in his aborted takeover attempt of the De Laurentiis group.
During the time he allegedly committed the violations, Sarivola apparently was under the protection of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He became a federal informant after his 1982 arrest for extortion.