Bloomberg News

Alleged Guggenheim Impostor Has U.S. Complaint Dismissed

September 12, 2011

(Updates with court filings in second paragraph.)

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A complaint against David Birnbaum, who was accused of fraud for allegedly posing as a member of the Guggenheim family, was dismissed by a U.S. magistrate judge in Manhattan.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott last week signed an order dropping the complaint against Birnbaum, according to a court filing entered today. U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra C. Freeman last month said the complaint should be dismissed if there was no deferred prosecution, voluntary dismissal or indictment by Sept. 9, according to a court filing.

Birnbaum, Catarina Pietra Toumei and Vladimir Zuravel were accused of using the name of the Guggenheim family, which is known for its wealth and philanthropy, to lure investors into phony business deals. The defendants also allegedly tried to use the Guggenheim name to enter business relationships with former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and Coca-Cola Co.

Lawyers representing Birnbaum didn’t immediately return phone messages left seeking comment on the order. Carly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on the dismissal.

The case is U.S. v. Toumei, 11-Mag.-207, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Mary Romano

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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