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Investigator: Man fooled dozens with Tiger Woods 'deal'

2:43 PM, May 24, 2011   |    comments
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To those who know him, Michael Segal is a lawyer, a financial adviser to NFL players or an investment manager handling deals involving Tiger Woods, Las Vegas casinos and Apple computer products.

But police say the Hudson resident is also something else -- the consummate con man.

Jimmy Finley first met Segal about a dozen years ago, when Finley was a bartender and Segal was a regular customer who worked as a lawyer and with the NFL.

A few years ago, Segal became a customer of Finley's new landscaping business. So when Segal approached him with a great deal on iPads, Finley didn't think twice.

"He was like, 'I got a buddy who works for Apple. He gets 50 percent off everything, one time, once per year,'" Finley recalled.

"I asked a bunch of regulars at the bar if they want iPads. A lot of people jumped on board ... (and) wrote me checks. I physically went to the bank with Mike Segal and cashed the checks, put them in my account."

"As I was giving Mike the money, the three tellers at my bank were like what are you doing? I was like, 'I'm getting iPads from Mike.' Well, they jumped in right at the bank."

Who could blame them? It sounded like a great deal. The only problem -- there was no guy working for Apple and no half-price iPads, according to police.

State troopers arrested Segal late last month, accusing him of taking as much as $400,00 from at least 78 people.

Segal pleaded not guilty to the charges during a preliminary hearing in Stow Municipal Court. In addition to the Apple computer products,  police say Segal also took money from victims by claiming he was involved in building high-end condominiums next to a North Carolina golf course being designed by Tiger Woods.

If that wasn't enough, police say Segal used the personal information he got from some victims to lease high-end vehicles for himself.

It turns out Segal has been accused of offering similar deals for years in Hudson and Twinsburg, according to court records.

Segal was first convicted of credit card fraud in federal court in the late 1980s, which led to his law license being revoked in Massachusetts.

Since then, he's been accused in more than 30 lawsuits of duping everyone from a top neurosurgeon to the mother of a boy he coached in baseball.

"We took every penny we had gotten from our wedding and gave it to him," said Jason Pallardy, who met Segal at a Solon athletics store where Pallardy worked.

After chatting with Pallardy over several months, Segal asked him to get a cup of coffee. That's where he brought up a new investment deal involving Tiger Woods. And, Pallardy said, Segal offered at minimum a 15 percent return on his investment within three months.

"It lent credibility when he, months earlier, had said that he helped professional ball players invest their money," said Pallardy. "It made sense. Professional ball players -- professional golfers."

But after three months, Segal had disappeared.

Mary Swank, who had been cutting Segal's hair for years at her salon, was offered a similar deal. She invested, only to see Segal stop coming around and stop returning calls.

"I ran into him at Starbucks and somebody actually had to hold me back because I was going to take him down," Swank said.

Police say everything eventually caught up with Segal. After leasing cars at auto dealers in Bedford using the identities of his victims, Segal got pinched trying to do it again at a dealer near the airport.

When police raided his home, they found a handgun, 20 cell phones, nearly 30 credit cards and a box load of checkbooks, money orders and other financial documents.

Police say that Segal's been able to operate openly in Hudson and Twinsburg all these years partly because he eventually pays victims at least some of the money he owes them over a number of years.

That was the case with Pallardy and Swank.

"I was devastated," said Swank. "I thought I was a pretty intelligent person. I couldn't believe I had been scammed like that."

WKYC-TV

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