Edmond coin expert Paul Montgomery, president of Heartland Precious Metals, recently gave expert testimony in a case in Texas on purchasing coins that were either overvalued, damaged or counterfeit.
EDMOND — Edmond coin expert Paul Montgomery enjoys fighting for victims of fraud who have been deceived into misleading investments related to rare metals.
“I’ve always been kind of a crusader against the bad guys … I’ve gotten a reputation over the years as the guy who helps people get their money back,” the numismatics professional said.
In November, Montgomery testified in federal court in Texas as an expert in a lawsuit against a New York-based coin dealer accused of misleading an elderly woman from Corpus Christi into buying coins that were either overvalued, damaged or counterfeit. Tuesday, the federal judge who heard the testimony last year ordered the dealer to pay nearly $1.9 million in damages.
The lawsuit came after Bonnie Pereida died in October 2011 and her fiance, Albert Malvino, was appointed executor of her estate and had the coins appraised for tax purposes, court documents stated.
Between January and May 2011, Pereida made 31 purchases of rare coins from the dealer PCA Collectibles Inc. Court documents show she got 135 coins for more than $700,000. The investment was meant for the couple’s retirement, Malvino testified.
Montgomery was one of the appraisers who assessed the coins. He determined the coins’ retail value was about $150,000.
“This case was so egregious,” Montgomery said. He said at one point he was called to the bench with the attorneys to teach the judge how to grade old, rare coins. He also wrote a report outlining his findings. He said he’s been involved with hundreds of investment cases over 31 years.
“Now, 99 out of 100 of these will settle, and typically they settle right about the same time I turn in my report because they know they’ve been caught dead to rights.
“People make bad decisions on investments all the time and, instead of fighting for their rights, they are embarrassed and they write it off as just a bad investment,” he said. “Don’t do that. There are remedies … don’t let somebody just nail you.”
Montgomery is the president and founder of Heartland Precious Metals in Edmond.
Conflict of interest?
The majority owner of PCA Collectibles, Anthony J. Delluniversita, who was found liable for misleading the victim, bought PCI Coin Grading Inc. in November 2010. The judge found that because Delluniversita graded the coins through his company, the coins were not “independently graded.”
Delluniversita “used the appearance of PCI as a separate corporation to deceive Pereida into believing that she was purchasing independently graded coins through PCA,” court documents stated.
The judge stated no one at PCA Collectibles knew he owned the coin-grading company. Delluniversita sold the coin-grading company in December 2011, court records show.
Anthony P. Delluniversita, the defendant’s son, is a New York attorney and assisted in the case. He said there are no laws saying it’s a conflict of interest if coin sales company owners also own grading companies.
“There’s no evidence, not one piece of evidence, through three years of litigating this matter, in which the actual consumer, the deceased, Bonnie Pereida, makes any form of a complaint about this,” Anthony P. Delluniversita said. He also called Pereida a “savvy investor,” citing her background as vice president of the Corpus Christi branch of Merrill Lynch.
The judge found, though, that she “was not an astute coin collector and was clearly deceived.” The defense attorney said they plan to appeal.