Former New Jersey Corrections Officer Charged with Cryptocurrency Fraud Scheme that Targeted Law Enforcement, Fire Personnel, and Other First Responders
TRENTON, N.J. – Two individuals today admitted conspiring with a twice-convicted fraudster to defraud investors of more than $35 million, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Christopher Anderson, 47, of Flemington, New Jersey, and Richard Curry, 36, of Northumberland, Pennsylvania, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to informations charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Anderson and Curry admitted conspiring with others, including Eliyahu “Eli” Weinstein, whose 24-year federal prison sentence was commuted after being twice convicted of defrauding investors of a total of $230 million.
“Anderson and Curry are admitting they took part in a scheme that created millions of dollars in loss for the victims,” FBI – Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “Although it's not easily understood, scams like this impact people's lives in a very real way. We're asking anyone who believes they are a victim or know of an investment that doesn't pass the smell test, to reach out to us at the Newark FBI. We will do all we can to hold those fraudsters accountable and protect the next potential victim.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Weinstein, Aryeh “Ari” Bromberg, Joel Wittels, Shlomo Erez, and Alaa Hattab were previously charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice based on allegations arising from the same scheme in which Anderson and Curry pleaded guilty today. That complaint remains pending.
Anderson and Curry admitted, among other things, to conspiring with each other, Weinstein, Bromberg, Wittels, Hattab and Erez to make materially false and misleading statements and omissions to investors and potential investors. These statements included actively concealing Weinstein’s identity, history of fraud and role in purported investments, and falsely claiming that investors funds would be used to invest in lucrative deals.
Weinstein was convicted two times in New Jersey federal court for defrauding investors. His first case involved a real estate Ponzi scheme, and his second case stemmed from additional fraud Weinstein committed while on pretrial release. For these crimes, which resulted in combined losses to investors of approximately $230 million, Weinstein was sentenced to serve 24 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. On Jan. 19, 2021, after Weinstein had served less than eight years in prison, the President of the United States at that time commuted Weinstein’s term to time served, leaving intact the rest of his sentence.
Conspiracy to commit securities fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Sentencing for Anderson is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2024, and for Curry, Jan. 18, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Dennehy, with the investigation leading to the charges in this case. He also expressed appreciation for the Securities and Exchange Commission, under the direction of Antonia Apps, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Fayer and Emma Spiro of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations against Weinstein, Bromberg, Wittels, Erez, and Hattab, are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.