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Leesburg attorney, accountant plead guilty to fraud scheme

James C. Cilenti

Two Leesburg men have pleaded guilty to carrying out a fraud scheme to obtain more than $500,000 in life insurance proceeds.

Accountant James C. Cilenti, 47, and lawyer Christopher Agresto, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a charge with a 20-year maximum prison term. Cilenti also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two-year sentence.

The pleas were heard by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady and announced by United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and the FBI’s James W. McJunkin.

According to court documents, the duo tried to defraud a Texas-based company out of the $500,000 life insurance policy of Cilenti’s late wife.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office had identified Cilenti as a person of interest in his wife’s death, so the insurance company had declined to pay him the proceeds, making his adopted daughter the beneficiary.
Then, authorities say, Cilenti retained Agresto, an attorney, to create a trust for Cilenti’s adopted daughter on which Agresto was trustee.

Court documents indicate that the men falsely represented to the insurance company that Cilenti would neither control, access or benefit from the account and the insurance company paid the $507,000 to the trust.

Within a week, Agresto wrote checks for $300,000 and $100,000 to Cilenti, records state, and he deposited them into his business account.

Agresto made out additional checks to Cilenti and made wire transfers from the account totaling $40,000 over the next five weeks, all of which went into the business account.

Court records state Cilenti spent nearly all the funds from the trust account, “very litte, if any of which, benefitted his adopted daughter.”

But Cilenti also applied for Social Security survivor benefits on his adopted daughter’s behalf, using her social security number and forging her signature without her knowledge. Court records indicate Celenti benefitted approximately $7,600 in survivor payments, the groundwork for the aggravated identity theft charge.

A bevy or organizations contributed to the investigation, including the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Commonwealth Attoney’s Office and the Social Security Administration.

Cilenti was initially arrested in May 2010 on embezzlement, fraud and money laundering charges.


Chris Agresto is an intelligent, dedicated attorney who works diligently for his clients.  Unfortunately we don’t have crystal balls to show us when we are being duped.  Had Chris known the background on Cilenti I sincerely doubt he would have accepted to represent him. 

Cilenti was a practicing CPA (license revoked). He had knowledge of every step he was taking in perpetrating this fraud and he dragged Chris into the melee. Chris, like all attorneys, presume their clients to be honest and dilligent people “until proven otherwise”.  Obviously, Cilenti is a proficient con man.

We are all standing behind Chris and sincerely hope the Court takes his reputation for honesty and integrity into account. Loudoun County residents are sending love and hugs to his family!

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Time to face the music armed with this great ifnoramotin.

County wide Lawyer audit should prove that Agresto is not the only practicing lawyer in this county who makes these types of so called mistakes.

I have no doubt that Cilenti conned Agresto into this scheme, but he still knew it was wrong. If Chris believed that the kids wanted this to happen, he could have written the checks to them. The fact is, he wrote the checks to Jim, and the trust was set up assuming that he would “neither control, access or benefit from the account.” Chris knew what he was doing. It is unfortunate that Jim decided to drag someone down with him. I wonder how the sentencing will go. That should tell us more about what was really going on.

The federal wire fraud statute forbids any statement or mistatement, half-truth or omission aimed at getting someone else to give up something of value, even the value of turning over insurance funds now rather than later, so long as its made with either knowledge that it’s not the complete truth or a ‘reckless disregard’ for the truth. Not a high mens rea requirement for the government, every civil litigator tells the opposing side that their case is stronger than maybe it is, so this isn’t uncommon behavior for lawyers. And Cilenti has conned a lot of people, I can certainly see Agresto believing that the Cilenti kids supported their father and wanted this to happen.

The girlfriend that died took a bunch of pills and died in her friend’s house. Jim had nothing to do with that, but he was not a good person. If Agresto was so innocent, why did he plead guilty? He must have known what he was doing was wrong. I knew him a while ago and he was a very nice guy, but people can change. I just feel sorry for all their kids. Chris’s family will be unsupported for a couple years and Jim’s kids have lost their mom and now dad is going to jail.

@blind justice and @nah cantbe - For Cilenti to dupe Agresto, all he’d have to do is convince him that the Cilentis’ interests were the same - that the kids would be on the street if the father lost his house, and that he’d be able to pay the trust back with the money he spent on fast cars and faster women. He should have done a better job of lawyering, and he shouldn’t have taken Cilenti at his word, but the fact that he never accepted a fee makes it clear to me that he thought he was doing the right thing.

UVA? Yeah, guess again. If he were a Virginia Law grad, he wouldn’t be doing DUI cases in Leesburg. Agresto went to George Mason Law.

Christopher Agresto is a good man.  I am in grief for his family.  We all make mistakes and no one would knowingly throw away a promising career for so little payback.  I pray that this will make him stronger rather than break him. 
I hope he knows that a lot of us feel for him.  Please remember that it is too easy to be judgemental and feel self-righteous without thinking through the facts.

In response to Agresto turning a blind eye.  Don’t know that much.  What I do know is that Cilenti is a con artist and may have pulled the wool over Agresto’s eyes by using a sob story so to speak.  Cilenti was also a special person of interest in his girlfriends death who also accidentally died a year before his wife so called killed herself.  Yes, he was cheating on his wife.  Cilenti was also charged with other fraud charges that did not involve Agresto.  It is clear who the real criminal is here.  It’s sad when someone as nice as Agresto was hand picked by a con artist/serial killer to do his dirty work.  I truly believe that Cilenti deceived Agresto.

It’s Loudoun County, VA there are no real good legal beasts. If any of them had real talent they wouldn’t be in Loudoun. ha!

@blind, I agree that Agresto is basically a good guy - well-liked, although not known as a legal beast in the courthourse - but c’mon!  Duped?  I admit I “don’t know” but completely innocent?  I find it hard to believe.  Sounds like he turned a blind eye to what he had to have known was wrong.  ‘Splain, if you have more.

Does anyone think that Jim looks like John Wayne Gayce?

Leesburg Guy.  That is the best you got.

Agresto’s are a good family.  Huge part of our valued community, good people despite how Agresto was conned by Cilenti.  Question technicality and not the said crime.  Cilenti should go away for life he is truly the main bad guy here.  Agresto’s morals were in the correct place.  Conned by a serial killer greedy mad man.  Cilenti should be put away for life.  Agresto is a good moral man.  This is an exact case of how our justice system fails.  Get a law degree before making unjust and uneducated opinions on what clearly was a true case of injustice.

Steve you must be mentally challenged.

I say nail them with everything you can and take away from them everything you can. No Sympathy, Let them rott. I do not care for individuals like this and they do not fit in the human being category based on their actions. Makes one wander what else they are hiding that just has’nt been found yet.

Think about a max of 20 years for committing fraud but you can commit man-slaughter and get a max of 4 years.

His last name should be changed to Aresto.

My bad….*LCSO

Well, @jim, those folks at the Loudoun County Public Schools aren’t known for their investigative skills.

Well, we know if LCPS suspect Cilenti is his wife’s death, then he should be ‘scott free’  Same goes with pregnant Ashburn women who’s boyfriend was suspect.  This is not a slam towards their deputies, just their investigative abilities.  Maybe a change in guard (Chapman) can change this.

He obviously really missed his wife…NOT!

looks like Agresto (or someone else) has edited his webpage to remove any connection with his law school.  interesting.




my guess would be UVA (based on his undergrad)

Why hasn’t Cilenti’s CPA license been revoked!!!!

A lawyer committing fraud. NO WAY!

</end sarcasm>

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