Bergen County, N.J., Man Sentenced To 54 Months In Prison For Conspiring To Defraud Investors Of $1 Million Through Bogus Investments
NEWARK, N.J. – The former New Jersey-based operator of Suarez Investment and Development LLC was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy that bilked victims out of $1 million through fraudulent investment schemes, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Joseph Suarez, 48, of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an Information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Suarez conspired with others, including Katherine Ferro, 38, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., a disbarred attorney, to commit wire fraud by inducing their victims to invest a total of $1 million dollars into various fraudulent schemes. Suarez admitted he convinced an individual to invest more than $300,000 in connection with certain business ventures, including a credit card factoring scheme. Credit card factoring is a form of accounts receivable where businesses can receive cash in advance of future credit card receipts.
Suarez also admitted that he and Ferro convinced an individual to invest approximately $222,000 in a plan to purchase D2 diesel fuel from foreign sources and resell the fuel at a profit. Suarez admitted that, contrary to the representations he and Ferro made regarding how the funds would be used, nearly all of the $222,000 wired into Ferro’s attorney trust account was depleted by transferring large amounts into other accounts for their personal use.
Suarez and Ferro also used false representations to convince additional victims to invest approximately $500,000 in the D2 diesel fuel purchase and sale plan. Ferro executed a written escrow agreement with several of these additional victims, which stated, among other things, that the investment would remain in Ferro’s attorney trust account for the duration of the investment period. Days after the victims wired the $500,000 investment into accounts controlled by Suarez and Ferro, Ferro transferred substantially all of the funds into other accounts.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez; and IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York Regional Office, under the leadership of Director Andrew Calamari; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of John L. Molinelli, for their assistance.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Suarez to serve two years of supervised release. Suarez will also be required to pay restitution in an amount to be determined.
Ferro pleaded guilty in March 2012 to wire fraud and awaits sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mala Ahuja Harker of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
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’s 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 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
Defense counsel: Curtis LaForge Esq., Saddle Brook, N.J.