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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 8, 2019

Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty to Investment Scheme that Defrauded Elderly Victims

Defendant Solicited Money for Purported Investments in Pre-Initial Public Stock Offerings and Used the Funds for Personal Expenses

Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, John Cucinella, the former investment manager of Mackrow Asset Management Group (Mackrow), a purported asset management firm located in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to securities fraud.  As part of his plea, Cucinella agreed to forfeit $948,530 that he misappropriated from investors.  The guilty plea was before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the guilty plea.

“John Cucinella represented himself to investors as a ‘financial concierge’, but rather than service the needs of elderly investors, he swindled them out of thousands of dollars and then spent the money on himself,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The Department of Justice and this Office are committed to prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law those who prey on vulnerable victims for their own selfish benefit.”

According to court filings and facts presented at the plea proceeding, between approximately March 2015 and April 2018, Cucinella falsely represented to Mackrow investors, many of whom were elderly, that their funds would be used to invest in pre-initial public offering (pre-IPO) shares of private companies, including a company purportedly that manufactured bug spray.  In a brochure that Cucinella provided to clients, Mackrow was described as “providing you all the resources of a true financial concierge.”  During the same time period, Cucinella transferred more than $400,000 from the Mackrow account to bank accounts he controlled, and spent approximately $108,000 for credit card payments and $40,000 at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Brooklyn.  More than 80 individuals invested approximately $778,000 with Mackrow, and received only $80,818 in return.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section.  Assistant United States Attorney David Gopstein is in charge of the prosecution. 

The Defendant:

JOHN CUCINELLA
Age: 41
Residence: Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-347 (RRM)

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
John Marzulli Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated August 8, 2019