Turnberry Embezzler Sentenced To Over Four Years In Prison
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A man who conspired with a former controller to embezzle millions from the company that owned or developed the Residences at MGM, Town Square shopping center, Turnberry Place, Turnberry Towers, and the Stirling Club in Las Vegas, was sentenced today to 51 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay approximately $3.7 million in restitution, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Rocco Lazazzaro, 55, of Las Vegas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro. Lazazzaro pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to his guilty plea agreement, from about May 17, 2007, to about Jan. 12, 2012, Lazazzaro and Hope Ippoliti, 51, the former controller for Turnberry Associates, conspired to steal more than $3.7 million dollars from Turnberry and its affiliates.
“Through this embezzlement scheme, Mr. Lazazzaro and Ms. Ippoliti victimized not only Turnberry Associates in the amount of $5.6 million, but caused irreparable harm and financial damage to the many victims and business entities employed and supported by Turnberry Associates,” said United States Attorney Bogden. “It is truly sad that the greed and self-indulgent criminal conduct of Mr. Lazazzaro continues to result in harm to so many other innocent victims.”
Ippoliti created fund transfer requests containing false information that the funds were intended for business-related purposes when she and Lazazzaro actually intended to withdraw the funds for personal use. Ippoliti faxed or emailed the fund transfer requests from Nevada to Turnberry Associates in Florida to cause the transfer of funds into Bank of America accounts over which she had signatory authority. Ippoliti and Lazazzaro deposited and cashed checks and cashier’s checks drawn on Bank of America bank accounts belonging to Turnberry Associates and its affiliates.
The total losses to Turnberry Associates and its affiliates are a total of $5.6 million. According to Lazazzaro’s guilty plea agreement, he was directly involved in causing approximately $3.7 million of those losses. The sentencing memorandum filed by the government states that Lazazzaro used the stolen monies for gambling and drug use.
Lazarro has four prior felony convictions and numerous misdemeanor convictions, many of which involved violence or threats of violence against others through the use or threatened use of fire, knives, or blunt objects. In 1986, while on probation for a 1980 felony grand theft conviction, he was convicted of committing five robberies in addition to vicious assaults and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. He was discharged from parole one year before committing the Turnberry embezzlement crimes.
Ippoliti pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit wire fraud resulting in total losses of $5.6 million dollars, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 19, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro.
The case was jointly investigated by the FBI and the United States Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina M. Brown.
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.