Middlesex County Man Charged with Securities Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
NEWARK, N.J. – A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man was indicted today by a federal grand jury for running a multi-year investment fraud scheme that caused millions of dollars of losses, Attorney for the United States Rachael A. Honig announced.
Sandy John Masselli, 57, of Old Bridge, New Jersey, is charged in a superseding indictment with one count of bank fraud, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Masselli was originally indicted on two counts of bank fraud and three counts of wire fraud on September 19, 2018.
According to the documents filed in this case:
From September 2011 through October 2017, Masselli solicited millions of dollars in investments from retail investors by fraudulently touting the prospect of his online gaming company, Carlyle Entertainment Ltd., formerly Carlyle Gaming & Entertainment Ltd. (Carlyle), to conduct a lucrative initial public offering (IPO) of its stock on either the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Masselli induced investors to purchase shares of Carlyle stock by promising them steeply discounted prices in advance of the purported IPO and assuring them that the stock price would increase significantly after the IPO. Masselli further represented that the IPO would occur within weeks of the investors’ stock purchases.
However, as Masselli knew, Carlyle was not prepared to conduct an IPO, given that neither Masselli nor anyone else on behalf of Carlyle ever filed an application with the NASDAQ or the NYSE to list Carlyle stock on either exchange, or filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a registration statement to list Carlyle shares on a national exchange. Masselli further misrepresented to the investors how he would use their investments, for example telling them that he would allocate investment funds toward improving Carlyle’s online platform and paying legal fees in connection with preparing Carlyle for a looming IPO. Contrary to these claims, however, Masselli misappropriated these funds to pay for his and his family’s own personal expenses.
Within days or weeks of receiving investor funds, Masselli deposited the monies into bank accounts he controlled, many of which were opened under names of fictitious corporate entities in an effort to conceal the source of the funds. Masselli typically used the funds to pay for personal expenses, including paying credit card balances and financing or leasing luxury automobiles.
Masselli also opened a credit card account under the assumed identity of another person, without that person’s authorization, made purchases with the account until he had almost reached or exceeded the credit limit, and then purported to send payments from a bank account that he knew did not have sufficient funds to cover the purchases. Before the fraudulent payments were rejected for insufficient funds, the credit card company temporarily credited the fraudulently opened account based on those payments, providing Masselli access to additional credit and allowing him to continue to make purchases. Masselli ultimately failed to pay the balance and the credit card company sustained a loss.
The bank fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The wire fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. The securities fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The aggravated identity theft count carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison that must run consecutively to the sentence imposed for any other count.
Attorney for the United States Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s superseding indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric A. Boden of U.S. Attorney’s Office in Trenton.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.