NEW YORK MAN and REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER JOSEPH MAZELLA CONVICTED FOR OPERATING A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME
Following two weeks of trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn today returned guilty verdicts against Joseph Mazella, the founder and president of the Great Atlantic Group, Inc., a Staten-Island based real estate and financial consulting company, on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. These charges arose out of the defendant’s operation of a Ponzi scheme that led to more than $14 million in losses. When sentenced by United States District Judge Carol B. Amon, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment on the most serious charge.
The verdicts were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The evidence at trial proved that Mazella solicited money from prospective investors by telling them that he would invest their money in real estate projects, including projects in Trenton, New Jersey, a warehouse in Utica, New York and a golf course in Greene County, New York. Mazella told his victims that their money would be safe and that he would pay them a fixed rate of return. Mazella encouraged several investors, typically senior citizens, to apply for reverse mortgages on their residences and to invest the proceeds with him. From approximately January 2007 until approximately December 2010, investors gave Mazella more than $14 million. By January 2007, though, the evidence showed that Mazella was operating Great Atlantic as a Ponzi scheme in which he paid returns to investors from existing investors’ deposits or money paid by new investors. Mazella also used investors’ money to pay his personal expenses, including payments for a Porsche, a mortgage on his personal residence and family expenses.
“The evidence at trial showed that the defendant callously and systematically defrauded his victims of their lives’ savings. Mazella’s victims, many of whom are senior citizens on a fixed income, turned to him to ensure their security in their golden years. Instead, their security was raided to fund his fraud, and they will feel the impact of Mazella’s crimes for the rest of their lives,” said United States Attorney Lynch.
Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which led the government’s criminal investigation.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Nowak, Winston Paes and Mary M. Dickman.
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