Former employee of atlantic county, n.J., timeshare consulting firm admits conspiring to defraud timeshare owners
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2013
CAMDEN, N.J. – A former employee of The Vacation Ownership Group LLC of Pleasantville, N.J., admitted to conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties by offering phony consulting services, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Joseph Saxon, 39, of Brigantine, N.J., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Saxon was previously indicted on this charge.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Vacation Ownership Group, a/k/a VO Group LLC, had offices in Mays Landing, N.J., and Egg Harbor Township, N.J., and claimed to offer to owners of timeshares consulting services that included cancelling, purchasing and upgrading the timeshares.
In 2010, Saxon started working at the VO Group and was trained by VO Group co-owner Adam Lacerda to call customers using prepared scripts. The defendant called customers and gave them the false impression that he was working for a bank or lending institution. After hearing Saxon’s false representations, some customers sent checks to the VO Group. For example, Saxon falsely told one victim that Saxon was working with the bank that held the victim’s timeshare mortgage and that the bank wanted to settle the loan for a fraction of the price. The victim then mailed a check for $5,925 to the VO Group. Saxon admitted causing more than $120,000 in losses.
On Jan. 23, 2013, co-owners Adam Lacerda, Ashley Lacerda and other members of the VO Group were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and other charges. Additional members of the VO Group were also charged by criminal complaint in April 2012. To date, 12 members of the VO Group have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. As for the Lacerdas and other defendants who have not been convicted in this case, the charges and allegations against them are merely accusations and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge to which Saxon pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; and special agents from the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Panella, New York Region, for their roles in the investigation leading to the guilty pleas. He also thanked the N.J. Department of Labor, Benefit Payment Control Unit, for its assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alyson M. Oswald and R. David Walk, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
Defense counsel: David S. Rudenstein Esq., Philadelphia