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Two York men likely suicide victims; one awaiting sentence for wire fraud, money laundering

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
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A York-area financial consultant who pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud and money laundering — and who was awaiting sentencing in federal court — was found dead in his home Wednesday morning, along with his partner, officials said.

The deaths of Raymond Oliver Kraft Jr. and Gregory A. Wise, both 64, are being investigated by York City Police and the York County Coroner's Office, according to Coroner Pam Gay.

The coroner's office was called to the men's home the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 2, Gay said.

York City Police Officer Derek Hartman said the domestic partners lived on Arlington Road in the city.

The deaths appear to be likely suicides, Gay said, but noted that additional investigation must confirm it before she makes official rulings as to cause and manner of death.

Kraft owned WiseKraft Solutions, a financial consulting firm that at one time had an office in the 2200 block of East Market Street in Springettsbury Township.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2018, accused of defrauding clients out of more than $1 million through WiseKraft Solutions.

Kraft pleaded guilty in federal court April 2 to wire fraud and money laundering, according to federal court records. His sentencing date had not yet been set, records indicate.

At the time of his guilty plea, Kraft signed a federal "stipulation of consent to forfeiture" form agreeing to forfeit the contents of a Members 1st Federal Credit Union account in his name and WiseKraft Solutions' name, according to court records.

The form, also signed by a federal prosecutor, doesn't say how much money is in the account.

Prison time possible: Defense attorney Chris Ferro said it had not yet been determined whether Kraft would have to serve time in federal prison.

"It was certainly a distinct possibility, based upon the federal (sentencing) guidelines of the case," Ferro said.

The attorney said he's sad for Kraft's family.

"Ray was a great guy," Ferro told The York Dispatch. "I was heartbroken to hear about his passing."

Asked whether Kraft might have committed suicide because of his legal troubles, Ferro said:

"I know that the past several months have been very difficult for Ray and his entire family. I felt there was still a strong fight to be had regarding the nature of the charges and I felt he was optimistic too that the battle was not over yet."

Wise was not charged with any financial wrongdoing in either federal court or York County Court, according to court records.

Kraft had been board president for the Arc of York County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, according to the Arc's website.

The organization has said they removed Kraft from that position on July 31, 2018, after learning of the charges against him. He took no money from Arc of York County, according to the organization.

Federal case: Kraft's federal indictment states he defrauded six clients from 2011 to 2018, most age 70 or older.

Three clients are from York County; others are from New York and Maryland, court records state.

In 2012, Kraft entered agreements with the clients to provide them with financial planning, business management and consulting services, according to his indictment. 

In March 2012 he created "for the benefit of," or FBO, accounts for his clients in their names, but he was the sole owner of all the accounts but one, according to his indictment.

Kraft — not his clients — received statements for each account, according to officials.

Three years later, Fulton Bank questioned Kraft about the legitimacy of certain transactions involving the accounts, and two months later they closed his accounts, officials said.

"Kraft solicited from clients more than $1,000,000 under false pretenses, did not invest clients' funds as promised, and concealed from clients material facts, such as Kraft's use of clients' fund to pay WiseKraft Solutions operating expenses, Kraft's personal expenses, and clients whom Kraft had previously defrauded," his indictment states.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.