Boiler Room Operator Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For Scamming Millions Of Dollars From Elderly Coin Collectors In All Fifty States
Michael Romano, 47, the leader of a telemarketing scheme that defrauded elderly investors across the country, was sentenced today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, to 20 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. As part of the sentence, Romano was ordered to pay $9,139,727.10 in restitution to the defrauded victims and forfeit $32,220,617, the illegal gains of the eleven-year fraud scheme. In June 2011, after a five-week trial, Romano was convicted of mail and wire and money laundering conspiracy.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“Michael Romano and those acting at his direction stole millions of dollars from the Greatest Generation. Romano took advantage of the trusting nature of hundreds of senior citizens across the United States by promising to sell them rare collectible coins, when in fact he was selling them near worthless change. Many of the victims purchased the coins in order to leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren. We remain committed to protecting all members of our communities from these illegal telemarketing schemes and will insure that fraudsters are stripped of their ill-gotten gains,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch thanked the United States Postal Inspection Service, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation, for its assistance in this case.
Between 1997 and 2008, Romano successively ran three coin companies, Wall Street Rare Coins, Atlantic Coin Company and Northeast Gold and Silver, located in Massapequa and Lindenhurst, New York. From these locations, the defendant and others defrauded elderly victims from all 50 states over an 11-year period. Romano falsely represented to his victims that the coins he sold were of a collectible grade. He then induced victims to buy even more coins using high-pressure tactics aimed at convincing investors that their coins would be more valuable if they purchased complete sets.
The sentencing proceeding was held before U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lara Treinis Gatz, Christopher Ott and Diane Leonardo.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.