Hudson County, N.J., Man Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Defrauding Hospitalized, Elderly Widow
CAMDEN, N.J. – A North Bergen, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 37 months in prison for defrauding an elderly woman of approximately $279,000 while she was hospitalized for cancer treatment, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Ralph Cozzino, 45, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to one count of mail fraud. Judge Kugler imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Cozzino admitted to stealing stock certificates from the elderly victim’s apartment. Cozzino then presented the stolen stock certificates to the victim’s stock transfer agent, along with a fraudulent power of attorney bearing the victim’s name, address, Social Security number and forged signature, which purported to grant him control over the victim’s financial affairs, including the power to redeem and/or sell stock.
Cozzino instructed the stock transfer agent to transfer ownership of the stolen stocks into Cozzino’s name and to liquidate certain shares of stock for his benefit. Cozzino caused the stock transfer agent to send him the proceeds of the liquidated shares, which he deposited into bank accounts that he controlled and spent the funds on various personal expenditures, including a 2006 Nissan, Lasik eye surgery, as well as a down payment, closing costs, and furniture for a new house. From April 2006 until October 2007, Cozzino liquidated, and converted to his own use, approximately $279,000 in stolen shares belonging to the victim.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Cozzino to serve three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $279,020.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, for the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirley U. Emehelu of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: J. Michael Farrell Esq., Wenonah, New Jersey