Operator of Long Island Business Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Investors in Distribution of Wine Product Featured on “Shark Tank” TV Show
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Joseph Falcone, who formerly operated a wine and liquor distribution business known as 3G’S VINO LLC (3G’S), pleaded guilty to wire fraud for his scheme to solicit investors. When sentenced, Falcone faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as restitution, criminal forfeiture and a fine. The guilty plea was entered before United States Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke.
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.
“Falcone lured investors into believing that they were funding an up-and-coming business and then used their money to purchase his Florida home and to finance his online securities trading,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office will continue to protect the investing public by prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law those who use deceptive practices to enrich themselves.”
“Mr. Falcone didn’t use the money his investors gave him on the actual investment he sold to them,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Investing in other people’s ideas can be a risky venture because most backers can’t see the details that would show the fraud. That’s where the FBI and our law enforcement partners come in. We can see the numbers that don’t add up and we can hold the fraudsters accountable.”
According to court filings and facts presented at the guilty plea proceeding, in December 2012, Falcone established 3G’S, based in Bethpage and Farmingdale, New York, which among other products, distributed a single-serving, wine in a sealed glass that was featured on the television program “Shark Tank.” Between September 2014 and November 2015, Falcone solicited investments and promised potential investors that he would use their money to fund 3G’S, such as by purchasing the single-serving wine product. Relying on those promises, investors wired funds from bank accounts in New York to bank accounts in Florida controlled by Falcone. Rather than invest the money as promised, Falcone used about $527,064 of the investors’ money to purchase a residence in Florida and to support his online securities trading.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Bradley T. King and Madeline M. O’Connor are in charge of the prosecution.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-257 (SJF)