Wallingford Man Sentenced to More Than 5 Years in Federal Prison for Operating Ponzi Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that JOSEPH A. CASTELLANO, 59, of Wallingford, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 68 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for operating an investment scheme that defrauded individuals of more than $1.4 million.
According to court documents and statements made in court, CASTELLANO operated various entities out of offices in Wallingford, including Casbo Investments, Wallingford Investors Limited Partnership, AIM Realty Investors, and Castellano & Co., LLC. As a Certified Public Accountant and owner of Castellano & Co., LLC, CASTELLANO prepared federal and state tax returns for individuals and local businesses. In connection with his tax preparation business, CASTELLANO established a base of clients to which he offered financial services and investment opportunities in addition to preparing their taxes.
Beginning in approximately July 2007, CASTELLANO falsely represented to victim-investors that he had clients who were in need of capital to fund businesses or real estate development projects, but were unable to secure funding from traditional sources such as financial institutions. CASTELLANO told victim-investors that he would obtain for them a consistent rate of return of between approximately six percent and eight percent annually on their money by taking their money and placing it with, or loaning it to, one or more of his other clients. CASTELLANO, through Casbo Investments, prepared and executed official-looking documents and investment contracts termed “Demand Notes,” which contained a promise to return the principal amount, with interest, at any time.
In fact, there were no actual investments or investment opportunities, and the money was not invested with or loaned to other clients of CASTELLANO. CASTELLANO diverted the funds for his own use and benefit, including for international travel. He also used some of the invested funds to make phony “interest” payments to other victim-investors.
During the scheme, CASTELLANO made false statements to certain victim-investors to explain various delays in the purported interest payments.
Through this scheme, CASTELLANO defrauded 18 victim-investors of a total of $1,447,151. Multiple victims lost most of their retirement savings.
CASTELLANO was arrested on April 6, 2016. On September 16, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
CASTELLANO, who had been released on a $250,000 bond, was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service at the conclusion of the sentencing proceeding.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael McGarry and John Pierpont.