2003-06-06 -- Giacomaro, Thomas -- Guilty Plea -- News Release

Convicted Con-Artist Pleads Guilty to $73 Million Fraud

NEWARK - A convicted Bergen County con-man pleaded guilty today to soliciting tens of millions of dollars from investors of two companies he controlled, in what was a giant pyramid scheme that collapsed on the investors, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Thomas Giacomaro, 50, who has been in federal prison since February 2002 for his prior guilty plea to conspiracy to defraud, gave a detailed admission of his leading role in the pyramid scheme. Giacomaro perpetrated the massive fraud in violation of the terms of a plea agreement, which required that he not commit any other criminal offenses while he was subject to that agreement.

Giacomaro admitted today before U.S. District Judge Alfred M. Wolin that he defrauded investors of approximately $73 million.

"Unfortunately, Giacomaro was very good at his con-artist craft," Christie said. "My office is now committed to seeing that Giacomaro gets a substantial prison sentence as reward for his duplicity in taking advantage of his plea agreement as well as the investors he duped."

Giacomaro pleaded guilty to a three-count, 28-page Information charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Giacomaro, who was to be released from prison on June 16 for his prior federal conviction, faces a likely range of at least 120 to 151 months in prison for his guilty pleas today.

Christie noted that, during his plea allocution today before Judge Wolin, Giacomaro admitted that he conspired with others in the pyramid scheme. Christie said the investigation continues and that charges against others will likely result. Numerous co-conspirators and businesses with roles in the various fraud schemes run by Giacomaro are referred to in the Information, but none of them by name.

Between 1995 and 2001, Giacomaro, two specific co-conspirators identified in the Information, along with others, established several business entities, including Wellesley Services Inc. and Windham Associates. Giacomaro admitted today that he was the defacto owner and president of Wellesley and Windham, but publicly listed co-conspirators M and B as the officers and owners. This, Giacomaro admitted, was to cover up and obscure his role in the companies, in an effort to legitimize the businesses and reel in investors who might otherwise avoid Giacomaro because of his criminal history.

Giacomaro admitted that he and his co-conspirators formed the business entities for the purpose of obtaining investor funds and funneling those funds to himself and his associates.

Giacomaro further admitted that he and his co-conspirators also created Marcus Industries, AKB and SRM to divert funds from Wellesley and Windham disguised as consulting fees and to conceal those diversions from investors.

Giacomaro admitted that he used millions of dollars of the fraudulently obtained funds to finance a lavish lifestyle for himself, including the purchase of a home and two adjoining properties in Saddle River, costing a combined $6.2 million. Giacomaro also admitted that he used millions of dollars in investor funds and fees to pay personal American Express and other credit card bills; used millions more to pay co-conspirators, including $2 million to buy houses for two co-conspirators; used $5.9 million to renovate his homes; and used millions more to buy luxury goods and services, pay legal bills and rent a luxury home in Delray Beach, Fla. and more.

Giacomaro admitted that during the period of the fraud, he raised the more than $73 million stolen from investors by convincing them that their investments were to be used for mergers and acquisitions of companies in the garbage, heating oil and transportation businesses.

The fraud and inducements, he said, included issuing promissory notes guaranteeing investors a 15 percent return and a premium equal to 50 percent of the principal amount of their investments, all while he knew the money would be diverted to him and his co-conspirators.

Giacomaro admitted that prior to his sentencing on other frauds in 2002 he lied to federal law enforcement and probation authorities in connection as they prepared recommendations for his sentencing. Among other things, he admitted that he used approximately $1.1 million in funds diverted from Windham to pay his court-ordered restitution and that he filed false tax returns that failed to account for millions of diverted investor funds.

Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Louie F. Allen; Special Agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation section, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Anne D. Fahy; and Inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Martin Phanco, and New Jersey Bureau of Securities, under the direction of Bureau Chief Franklin Widmann, with developing the case against Giacomaro.


Defense Counsel: Stacy Biancamono, Esq. Federal Public Defender Newark