Sarasota Man Indicted For Investment Fraud
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the return by a grand jury of an indictment charging Gaeton Della Penna (61, Sarasota) with eight counts of wire fraud and ten counts of mail fraud in connection with an investment fraud scheme. If convicted, Penna faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each count. The indictment also notifies Penna that the United States intends to seek a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of more than $3 million and intends to forfeit any assets that are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense, including funds in bank accounts in the name of Penna’s business entities and his Sarasota residence.
Penna self-surrendered to authorities today. His initial appearance is scheduled for 2 p.m. today before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun.
According to the indictment, Penna enticed investors to invest in Penna’s “investment funds” by guaranteeing them at least 5% yearly interest on their investment, with the principal to be returned at the end of an 18-month period, minus a nominal management/organizational fee paid to Penna, plus any trading profits. These representations were false. Instead of making profitable trades and protecting investors’ principal, Penna used less than half of the investors’ money for trading, lost money in his trades, and misappropriated the rest of the investors’ money by using it to repay other investors’ principal. He also used the monies for personal expenditures, including mortgage payments on his waterfront residence. Penna directed investors to write checks and wire their investment proceeds to him in the name of these funds and to Gaeton Capital Advisors. Penna also directed that false statements and “quarterly” interest checks be sent to the investors via the U.S. Mail to perpetuate the fraud.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley Howard-Allen.