U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
March 16, 2011
FORMER RHODE ISLAND ART DEALER CONVICTED OF
BILKING MILLIONS FROM INVESTORS; DEFRAUDING INVENTOR
Rocco DeSimone convicted of fraud and money laundering in schemes that netted him
more than $6M in cash, assets and forgiven debt
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal jury in Providence on Wednesday convicted Rocco P. DeSimone, 57, of Johnston, R.I., with conning an inventor and several investors out of more than six million dollars in cash, tangible assets and forgiven debt. DeSimone, a former art dealer, was convicted of bilking his victims by fraudulently claiming to be marketing inventions which he had little or no ownership. The jury, which deliberated for 17 hours over three days, convicted DeSimone of seven counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. The jury acquitted the defendant of two counts of mail fraud.
DeSimone, who was about to complete a federal prison term for tax fraud, escaped from a minimum security facility in New Jersey in March 2008 after he learned that federal agents had executed a search warrant at his Johnston home in connection with this case. He surrendered in Rhode Island three days later.
DeSimone’s conviction was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office; and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations.
During the two week-trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Lee H. Vilker presented evidence that DeSimone’s schemes involved the marketing of three inventions developed by two inventors. One inventor developed the “Disk Shield” in 2006 as a protective shield for compact discs and DVDs. In 2005, another inventor, who is also a physician, patented the “Drink Stik,” designed to allow individuals wearing protective gear to drink fluids without first having to remove the protective gear. In 2006, the physician-inventor developed the “Song Tube,” designed as an improved version of a gastrointestinal medical tube.
Evidence was presented during the trial that DeSimone falsely represented to the Drink Stik inventor that he personally knew the Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Investments and claimed that the CEO had agreed to purchase the Drink Stik for millions of dollars. DeSimone also falsely represented to potential investors that Fidelity, Raytheon and/or Tyco International had offered to purchase the rights to the Drink Stik for millions of dollars. DeSimone obtained from investors in the Drink Stik about $1.2 million in funds and $4.9 million in forgiven debts and other property, including expensive art work and valuable Japanese artifacts and swords.
Evidence was also presented to the jury that DeSimone convinced the physician-inventor that he could successfully market the Song Tube gastrointestinal device in exchange for an ownership interest in the Song Tube. The inventor subsequently assigned the Song Tube patent to a company in which DeSimone had a 34 percent ownership.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that DeSimone solicited investments in the Disk Shield by falsely representing that he owned the right to market it. In fact, evidence showed that DeSimone had no ownership interest in the Disk Shield and no authority to solicit investments. DeSimone fraudulently represented that Nintendo, Inc. and SONY, Inc. had offered millions of dollars for the Disk Shield, when neither company had made such an offer.
DeSimone, testimony showed, made several false representations about the Drink Stik and Song Tube marketing campaigns to a California investor, who subsequently wired about $600,000 to a bank account held in the name of Rocco DeSimone’s wife.
U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith who presided over the trial scheduled a sentencing hearing on July 14, 2011. DeSimone faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge of mail fraud, and 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of gain or loss for money laundering.
In addition, the Government is seeking the forfeiture of money and other assets that DeSimone derived from the schemes. Among the assets: a 2006 Ford GT automobile, nine Japanese swords, and a 1915 painting by Pierre-August Renoir entitled “Paysage a’ Cagnes.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, conducted the investigation.