‘Investment genius’ with fictional Pittsburgh ties pleads guilty to money laundering
An Ohio man who boasted he earned as much money as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, worked for a company in Pittsburgh and regularly talked with presidential candidate Donald Trump pleaded guilty Monday in Columbus federal court to mail fraud and money laundering.
Nearly everything Matthew J. Hoyo, 56, of Belmont, Ohio, said about himself was a lie designed to support his claim to victims that he was a financial investment expert, prosecutors said.
In reality, Hoyo hasn’t worked or filed a tax return since the mid-1980s, has no assets or money of his own and lives in his parents’ basement, prosecutors said.
“Mr. Hoyo built a house of cards laced with a web of financial lies,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, the Internal Revenue Service special agent in charge of criminal investigations for the Cincinnati field office. “Well, the underlying structure fell apart and exposed him for who he really is — a thief.”
Hoyo’s attorney, Brad Barbin, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Hoyo’s plea came in the middle of his criminal trial, which started Oct. 3. After the government rested its case, he decided to plead guilty instead of presenting a defense, prosecutors said.
Between 2012 and 2015, he stole almost $400,000 from two people by claiming he was an “investment genius” who was paid more than $300,000 per hour for his time. He told people he made as much money per year as the Steelers’ franchise quarterback.
Hoyo claimed to work during those years for a company headquartered in Pittsburgh whose board of directors included Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. He also claimed to have provided advice to billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, the former hedge fund manager and a Pittsburgh native.
Hoyo would display his cellphone to show the number of calls placed to and received from “Trump D,” which he claimed was Donald Trump but was actually the number of one of his acquaintances, authorities say.
Hoyo also boasted of Mafia connections allegedly obtained through negotiations with Coronet Foods, a produce company that operated in the St. Clairsville, Ohio, area, to supply lettuce to McDonald’s. Hoyo never worked for Coronet Foods and never associated with any members of organized crime families, authorities say.
Hoyo’s tales also had him managing the construction of a casino in Macau on the south coast of China and working in New York City for Goldman Sachs as a stock trader.
Instead of investing the money he stole from the two victims, he gambled it away at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington County, the Wheeling Island casino in West Virginia and other casinos in the St. Clairsville, Ohio, area, prosecutors said.
Hoyo also used the money to rent a Chrysler 300 and make other personal expenditures, prosecutors said.
As part of his plea agreement, Hoyo has agreed to pay $392,577 in restitution. His sentencing date has not been set.
Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or [email protected].