Missouri businessman admits to gambling away $1.1 million of investors’ money

“From Sept. 2, 2020 through at least Nov. 16, 2021, Harish Sunkara falsely told potential investors that he had won contracts with the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport,” the release read.

Sunkara’s company – Pace Solutions – had indeed won a contract with the airport, but for a much lesser amount. Pace Solutions was awarded a $49,500 contract to provide the airport with IT training software. Sunkara admitted to using forged, altered and fraudulent past and legitimate contract documents to convince investors he won larger contracts. Included in the fraudulent documents were forged signatures of the airport’s contract administrator.

“One investor wired $150,000.00 to Sunkara’s Pace Solutions bank account. Another sent him $200,000. A third sent $100,000. A fourth sent $645,000, Sunkara’s plea says,” the release reads. “Sunkara did not use the money on the fictitious business venture, however. On multiple occasions when investors wired him money, he sent all or part of it to Las Vegas casinos. Between 2020 and 2021, Sunkara spent at least $5.5 million at casinos in eastern Missouri and Nevada.”

Sunkara pleaded guilty Aug. 4 before US District Judge Matthew T. Schelp to two counts of aggravated identity theft, according to the release.

Each charge Sunkara pleaded guilty to carries a penalty of two years in prison, and a possible fine of up to $250,000. At Sunkara’s sentencing in November, he will be ordered to repay investors’ money, the release reads.

“Harish Sunkara lured investors with false promises of a low-risk, high-return investment, when all he did was steal their money,” Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division said in the release. “Verify investment information independently, especially when an offer seems too good to be true.”

The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant US Attorney Derek Wiseman is prosecuting the case.

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