West Haven Woman involved in Scheme to Steal COVID-19 Relief Funds from the City Sentenced to Prison
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Brian C. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the Boston Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, today announced that LEON C. VACCARELLI, 42, of Waterbury, has been found guilty of numerous fraud and money laundering offenses stemming from an investment scheme that defrauded individuals of approximately $1.5 million. A trial before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton began on May 13 in New Haven, and the jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of a 21-count superseding indictment this morning.
According to court documents and the evidence presented during the trial, Vaccarelli was a registered representative of The Investment Center (“TIC”), a brokerage company, and was an investment adviser associated with IC Advisory Services, Inc. (“IC Advisory”). He also was the owner and only member of LWLVACC, LLC, and conducted business through an entity named Lux Financial Services (“Lux Financial”). Using these various entities, Vaccarelli operated a financial advisory and brokerage service through which he offered investment advice and sold investments and securities to individuals and families in the Waterbury area.
Between approximately 2011 and 2017, Vaccarelli defrauded approximately 15 victim investors of approximately $1.5 million by falsely representing that he would invest his clients’ money in IRA rollover accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit (“CDs”), or other types of interest-earning investments. However, instead of investing customers’ funds as he had represented, Vaccarelli deposited customer funds into his own personal account and business bank accounts, commingled those funds with his own money, and used the funds to pay both business and personal expenses, including tuition and mortgage payments. In some instances, he also used customer funds to make bogus “interest payments” to other victim-investors.
Vaccarelli’s victims include an elderly woman who Vaccarelli coerced into transferring approximately $300,000 in funds from a safe investment portfolio into a bank account that Vaccarelli controlled. Vaccarelli subsequently spent the money on personal expenses and to pay off another investor who threatened to sue him. Vaccarelli also stole nearly $500,000 from a trust, which was established in 1991 to care for a woman with diminished capacity. Other victims include a retired schoolteacher, a retired construction worker, and medical professionals.
On May 2, 2018, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Vaccarelli with three counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. On March 5, 2019, a superseding indictment against Vaccarelli added three counts of wire fraud and six counts of securities fraud.
Mail fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count. Money laundering carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each count.
Judge Arterton scheduled sentencing for August 22, 2019. Vaccarelli is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael S. McGarry and Jennifer R. Laraia.