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Bergen con man gets 30 months in prison for swindling investors

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A slick Bergen County con man was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay back his victims $8.6 million today after admitting that he and his partner played a shell game with their money to cover more than $10 million in payroll taxes.

Equitair was one of the companies that received the diverted investments

Arthur Piacentini, 51, of Saddle Brook, and Paul Bultmeyer of Upper Saddle River both admitted they created Sherbourne Capital to lure investors — mostly retirees — whose money they then used to bail out AmeriPay, their payroll company.

The partners established Ameripay in a Rochelle Park office in 1996 to handle payroll services for various private companies and public entities throughout New Jersey, issuing payments to the IRS on their behalf.

They also operated Equitair, a jet-chartering company also located in Rochelle Park.

Before long, “Ameripay amassed a shortfall in money due to inappropriate diversion of funds,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. “Because of the shortfall, Ameripay was unable to fulfill its obligations to its clients and was not making payments on time.”

So in October 2004, they incorporated Sherbourne Capital Management, Ltd.

Sherbourne Financial advertised itself on the web as “Your Retirement Income Specialist,” according to the United States Security and Exchange Commission, which also brought charges against both men.

“The clients of both Ameripay and Sherbourne were told that their money was being invested according to a diversified investment strategy and was protected,” Fishman said. “The investors were never told how their money was really being used, and in some cases, were even given money provided by other clients as “interest” on their investments.”

Had the investors they recruited taken the time to look, they’d have discovered that the company never registered with either federal or state regulators to sell any kind of investments.

Bultmeyer, 71, was sentenced in March to five years in federal prison and ordered to re-pay the same amount as Piacentini by U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares.

According to Gerald Krovatin, Bultmeyer’s lawyer, several of the victims have already been repaid, with interest. But others are still waiting.

The case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which Fishman said is designed to “wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.”

The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, “bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.”

Its goals include working to “ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes,” she said.

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