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Investment swindler admits conning elderly

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

So yet another slick con man has admitted duping people who trusted him with their savings. Do we have your attention yet? The swindler from Saddle Brook told a federal judge he and his partner played a shell game, covering more than $10 million in payroll taxes with money they raised in an investment scam.

As part of his plea deal with the feds, Arthur Piacentini, 50, agreed to repay his victims. But that could take some time.

U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares ordered that Piacentini remain held on $500,000 bail until sentencing in two months. Linares, if he chooses, could send Piacentini to prison for a maximum 20 years. Several factors are taken into account before he’ll determine that number — which means lawyers on both sides will be busy in the coming weeks.

Piacentini and Paul Bultmeyer, of Upper Saddle River, created a sham firm, 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.

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

Jerry DeMarco (Publisher/Editor)

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

“The clients of both Ameripay and Sherbourne were told that their money was being invested according to a diversified investment strategy and was protected,” the statement says. “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.

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

No one has provided an official count, but there have been dozens of similar con men led through the federal halls of justice in Newark, Camden and Trenton since Fishman became New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor.

His spokeswoman noted that the case “was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force,” 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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