Woodland Park, N.J. Man Admits Scheme To Defraud More Than 17 Charities And Non-Profit Organizations
NEWARK, N.J. – The owner and president of GAC Consulting Group LLC (“GAC”) today admitted his role in a scheme to defraud at least 17 charities and non-profit organizations, costing them more than $750,000 in losses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gregory Ciccone, 36, of Woodland Park, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. On Oct. 26, 2010, Ciccone was arrested and charged with mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with his charity fraud scheme, which promised high-end prizes that were never delivered.
A Superseding Indictment returned by a federal grand jury on May 15, 2012, charged Ciccone with mail fraud, wire fraud and filing a false 2009 tax return.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Ciccone owned and operated GAC, a business which contracted with charities and non-profit organizations and arranged for high-end prizes to be auctioned off to bidders during fund-raising events. They included: a walk-on role on the “Desperate Housewives” television show; tickets to the 2009 Tony Awards; an appearance by “C.A.,” a celebrity who is a cancer survivor; and rounds of golf at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Ga.
Ciccone convinced the charities and non-profit organizations to pay GAC both an up-front retainer and commission fees based upon his ability to provide certain prizes. Ciccone not only did not deliver the vast majority of the prizes offered to his victims, he never had the ability to do so. From October 2006 through April 2010, Ciccone’s actions caused more than $768,000 in losses to at least 17 different charities and non-profit organizations.
After his Oct. 26, 2010, arrest, Ciccone filed a false 2009 tax return on May 13, 2011, in which he failed to list certain retainer fees and commissions received from his victims, as well as gambling winnings. As part of his plea, Ciccone agreed to pay back $267,778 in criminal forfeiture.
The fraud charges to which Ciccone pleaded guilty are punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense; and a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $100,000 on the tax fraud count. Judge Hayden continued Ciccone’s bail pending sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with the FBI under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez, special agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, and criminal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s criminal investigator program, for the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Mack and Kathleen P. O’Leary of the U.S. Attorney’s Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: Salvatore T. Alfano Esq., Bloomfield, N.J., and Louis C. Esposito Esq., Cedar Grove, N.J.