Fort Lauderdale Broker Sentenced to More than Six Years in Prison for $16 Million Precious Metals and Securities Fraud Scheme
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office and Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) announced that Salvatore Colonna, 69, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced on November 30, 2018, to 78 months in prison for his role in a $16 million precious metals and securities fraud scheme and ordered to pay approximately $13 million in restitution.
According to court record, including the plea documents, from January 2010, through October 2013, the defendant worked as a broker for Liberty International Financial Services and related entities (together, “Liberty”) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During that period, Colonna agreed on a scheme with other co-conspirators to obtain money from investors by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, including (a) that investors’ money would be used to buy precious metals; (b) that investors would receive substantial dividends on Liberty investments; and (c) that the defendant would only take a five to fifteen percent commission on investments. In truth and in fact, as the defendant knew, Liberty was not using investor money to buy precious metals, Liberty investments would not pay substantial dividends, and Colonna knowingly took commissions on investors’ monies as high as forty percent.
According to the plea documents and statements at sentencing, from January 2010, through October 2013, investors sent over $16 million in funds to Liberty. Liberty returned only around $3 million to investors. A substantial percentage of the money was used to pay the founders of Liberty and Colonna received approximately $2.4 million in victims’ funds.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and IRS-CI in this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.