Long Island Man Pleads Guilty In Connection With $5 Million Ponzi Scheme
Long Island resident Robert Rocco, 49, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Leonard D. Wexler at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, NY, to wire fraud in connection with a series of fraudulent investment schemes that he created. Rocco faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of over $250,000, and restitution of up to $3,498,940.13. Sentencing will be scheduled when the Presentence Investigation Report is completed.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
“For nearly seven years, rather than make sound investment decisions as he had promised, Robert Rocco fleeced friends, neighbors, and colleagues and used their money to fund his own lavish lifestyle. His lies caught up to him and his scheme was revealed. Today, through his plea of guilty, Rocco has finally admitted to his criminal conduct,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its work on the investigation.
Rocco, while acting as the president of the Dix Hills Soccer Club, solicited club members and volunteers, friends, and neighbors to invest money in a series of businesses that he formed including, Limestone Capital Services (“Limestone”), Advent Merchant Services, LLC and Advent Equity Partners, LLC, that Rocco claimed would earn high rates of return on investments. Rocco told investors that they would receive returns of up to 18% of their principal investment annually through the companies’ investments in ventures that purportedly included providing loans to finance wholesale cigarette purchases and a credit card processing venture. Rocco solicited and received approximately $5 million in investor money between 2006 and 2013, which was not invested as promised. Instead, he misappropriated the money and solicited money from new investors which he used to pay purported profits to earlier investors, thus concealing the earlier misappropriation. Rocco also sent account statements to investors that falsely showed that investors’ accounts had earned high rates of return. Between January and March 2010, Rocco deposited $66,915 in checks from the soccer club into Limestone and later distributed the proceeds of the checks to early investors in Limestone, leaving the soccer club with no funds to operate. In April 2010, Rocco sought and received donations to allow the club to continue operations.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Allen Bode.
Dix Hills, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 13-CR-664 (LDW)