Bergen county, n.J., man admits conspiring to defraud investors of $1 million through bogus investments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – The former New Jersey-based operator of Suarez Investment and Development LLC today admitted his role in a conspiracy that bilked victims out of $1 million through fraudulent investment schemes, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Joseph Suarez, 47, of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an Information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Suarez conspired with others, including Katherine Ferro, 37, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., a disbarred attorney, to commit wire fraud by inducing their victims to invest a total of $1 million dollars into various fraudulent schemes. Suarez admitted he convinced an individual to invest more than $300,000 in connection with certain business ventures, including a credit card factoring scheme. Credit card factoring is a form of accounts receivable where businesses can receive cash in advance of future credit card receipts. Suarez also admitted that he and Ferro convinced an individual to invest approximately $222,000 in a plan to purchase D2 diesel fuel from foreign sources and resell the fuel at a profit. Suarez admitted that, contrary to the representations he and Ferro made regarding how the funds would be used, nearly all of the $222,000 wired into Ferro’s attorney trust account was depleted by transferring large amounts into other accounts for their personal use.
Suarez and Ferro also used false representations to convince additional victims to invest approximately $500,000 in the D2 diesel fuel purchase and sale plan. Ferro executed a written escrow agreement with several of these additional victims, which stated, among other things, that the investment would remain in Ferro’s attorney trust account for the duration of the investment period. Days after the victims wired the $500,000 investment into accounts controlled by Suarez and Ferro, Ferro transferred substantially all of the funds into other accounts.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; and IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York Regional Office, under the direction of George S. Canellos; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of John L. Molinelli, for their assistance.
The count to which Suarez pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Sept. 20, 2012.
Ferro pleaded guilty in March 2012 to wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, 2012.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny R. Kramer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force 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. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, 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.
Defense counsel: Susan Cassell Esq, Ridgewood, N.J.