NORWICH ACCOUNTANT PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD AND TAX CHARGES
The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that FELIX ROBERT LaSARACINA, 60, of Norwich, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Christopher F. Droney in Hartford to one count of wire fraud and one count of failure to pay federal employment taxes.
According to court documents and statements made in court, LaSARACINA, the owner and operator of F. Robert LaSaracina CPA, LLC in Norwich, provided accounting and tax preparation services to clients in the New London and Norwich area and served as the trustee for a series of trusts set up by a family for the benefit of their three children. From approximately November 2001 to September 2010, LaSARACINA defrauded more than 20 individuals and several trusts that he controlled out of more than $2.5. million.
As part of a scheme to defraud investors, LaSARACINA falsely represented to numerous individuals and clients that he had investment opportunities in which they could participate that were safe and would pay a stated return. LaSARACINA made several false statements to victim investors, such as, that their money would be invested in real estate or with another client of his; that the investment would pay 8 percent interest and was a “sure thing”; that their money would be invested in a construction project with an individual who had previously had a bad experience with traditional banks; that their money would be or had been invested with a local business; and that he, LaSARACINA, would personally guarantee their investment. All of these statements were false, there were no actual investment opportunities, and LaSARACINA used the invested funds for his own benefit.
LaSARACINA sought to create the appearance of legitimacy to prospective investors by preparing and executing official-looking documents or investment contracts termed “Promissory Note(s),” which contained various provisions including a promise to repay the principal sum of the funds invested or loaned, a set interest rate, a confidentiality clause, and a personal “unconditional guarantee” by LaSARACINA.
LaSARACINA used the invested funds to pay personal expenses such as credit card bills, to pay business expenses and to make bogus “interest payments” to other investors. He also converted a large amount of the funds to cash.
As a trustee, LaSARACINA controlled and was responsible for managing the assets of the trusts, including the real estate holdings owned by the trusts. LaSARACINA took out a series of mortgages using the real estate that was owned by the trusts as collateral. Through this scheme, LaSARACINA diverted more than $1.2 million in mortgage funds for his own personal use.
The tax charge against LaSARACINA stems from the operation of his accounting firm. Between 2005 and 2010, LaSARACINA failed to remit to the Internal Revenue Service approximately $734,359.41 in federal income taxes and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes that he had collected from the total taxable wages of employees of his business.
Judge Droney has scheduled sentencing for October 7, 2011, at which time LaSARACINA faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 25 years.
Since his arrest on October 20, 2011, LaSARACINA has been released on a bond, cosigned by family members, in the amount of $500,000.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the State of Connecticut’s Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. McGarry and Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Leonard C. Boyle.
In December 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several law enforcement and regulatory partners announced the formation of the Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force, which is investigating matters relating to insider trading, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, investor fraud, financial statement fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and embezzlement. The Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Antitrust Division; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; State of Connecticut Department of Banking; Greenwich Police Department and Stamford Police Department.
Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll free, 855-236-9740, or by sending an email to email@example.com.