Philly Businessman Exposed as a Phony

May 13, 2011  |  

(Reuters) – Tyrone L. Gilliams Jr., a commodities trader, part-time online preacher and hip hop event promoter, is not one for understatement.  In a promotional video for a celebrity-studded charity event last December — among the headliners was rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs — Gilliams mugs for the camera. Posing with stacks of money on his lap, he bills himself as a mogul, a philanthropist and a self-starter.  But now one of his investors is crying foul, suing the Camden, New Jersey, native and Ivy League graduate for fraud.  David Parlin, a businessman from Cincinnati, Ohio, claims Gilliams misappropriated much of his private foundation’s $4 million investment and used the money to pay for trips to the Bahamas, outings at Miami nightclubs and shopping sprees at Saks Fifth Avenue and a Cherry Hill, New Jersey Mercedes Benz dealership.  On its face, the investment venture that Parlin sunk some of his foundation’s money into seems dubious. He was promised, according to court papers, a five percent a week return — the kind of performance that would make even Ponzi king Bernard Madoff blush. And it was an investment strategy using U.S. Treasuries, where the current yield on a 10-year T-bill is 3.2 percent.  Worse, Parlin says he didn’t even know the money had been passed on to Gilliams to manage until shortly before he filed the lawsuit. He’s also suing New York financier Vassilis Morfopoulos, who transferred the foundation’s money to Gilliams.

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