Courts & Crime

Belleville man faces prison after investors lose millions

BELLEVILLE -- Edward Moskop brought a file folder when he came to the hospital where Kerry House was sitting with her mother, Carol Cookson, who was battling cancer.

The folder contained information on the more the $379,000 worth of Cookson's investments placed with Moskop, who offered reassurance.

"He told me that mother took care of the finances and it was all included in the folder," House said. "He said it would all be all right."

The investments contained in the file folder were worthless.

Cookson, of Belleville, recovered from her illness. But not her financial ills.

Moskop, 63, owner of Moskop & Associates in Belleville, pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and money laundering connected to the theft of Cookson's money and 17 other investors, who lost a collective $2.4 million.

He is scheduled to stand before a federal judge on Monday for sentencing. He could receive a sentence of up to 20 years on the mail fraud and 10 years on the money laundering.

Cookson, now 71, works at a local furniture store to provide for herself financially.

"Words can't express what he's done to us," House said. "How could he do that? Come there like that when he knew the whole story. He knew what he had done to us."

Olga and Michael Kuschnieryk, of Chicago, worked in forced labor camps in Germany during World War II before emigrating to the United States in 1949. The young couple had nothing, Olga Kuschneiryk said, living in a small apartment, sharing a bathroom with the other couples in the building.

Michael Kuschneiryk worked as a maintenance man for Cahokia School District 187, saving until he could buy a small piece of land in Cahokia. Olga Kuschnieryk wrapped meat at a market. Michael Kuschneiryk bought lumber and began constructing a small house on the weekends.

There, the couple raised their children and built a nest egg that they turned over to Moskop to invest. Olga Kuschneiryk asked Moskop for statements, then her daughter, Michelle Sadkowy, began to check up.

After years of hard work and saving for retirement, the money was gone.

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