A local plumber and landlord, Israeli-born Golan Barak, was sentenced on Dec. 7 to 33 months in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to running a Ponzi scheme that swindled more than $2 million from foreign investors between 2013 and 2016, according to reports in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Barak, who resides in Point Breeze, is also required to pay restitution to his victims, pursuant to the decision handed down by U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose.
Barak, 50, owned seven businesses and controlled scores of properties in the Pittsburgh area. He was indicted by a grand jury in October 2016 on nine counts of wire fraud concerning his real estate dealings.
“The FBI and the IRS said he persuaded sophisticated investors from Israel and other countries to fly to Pittsburgh to become partners with him in buying and flipping houses in the city and suburbs,” the Post-Gazette reported. “He told them they would be able to enter into 50-50 partnerships with him in buying houses and then either selling them or managing them for rental income through companies he created.”
The investors alleged that Barak used their money to buy properties “other than the ones specified in agreements or used it to pay off earlier investors.”
Barak has lived in the United States since 2001, and is a naturalized citizen. He moved to Pittsburgh from Boston in 2012.
He is married to Linda Gordon, the daughter of the late Nicky Gordon of Mt. Lebanon whose murder in 2000 by her neighbor, Richard Baumhammers, made national headlines. Nicky Gordon was Baumhammers’ first victim in a racially motivated spree of violence during which he killed five people and left one paralyzed.
While living in Boston, Barak had filed for bankruptcy, according to court records.
Neither Barak’s attorney, Komron Maknoon, nor the assistant U.S. district attorney assigned to the case, Greg Melucci, responded to requests for comment. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at