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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 14, 2020

Hedge Fund Manager Sentenced To 140 Months In Prison For Defrauding Investors Of Millions Of Dollars

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that NICHOLAS JOSEPH GENOVESE was sentenced on February 11 in Manhattan federal court to 140 months in federal prison for committing securities fraud.  GENOVESE induced more than $11.2 million in investments in a hedge fund that he founded, Willow Creek Investments LP (“Willow Creek”), by misrepresenting his qualifications and professional background and concealing that he had prior felony convictions for fraud-related crimes.  In February 2018, GENOVESE was charged, arrested, and detained for perpetrating this fraud.  In October 2018, GENOVESE pled guilty to one count of securities fraud before United States District Judge William H. Pauley III, who also imposed the sentence. 

United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Nicholas Genovese is a recidivist fraudster and con artist who tricked more than ten victims into investing more than $11.2 million dollars into his hedge fund, Willow Creek, based on false claims about his background and credentials.  Genovese brazenly lied to his victims, falsely claiming that he was an heir to a multimillion-dollar fortune, that he had an Ivy League MBA, and that he had served in senior roles at major Wall Street firms.  In reality, Genovese was a repeat offender with nine prior criminal convictions for fraud-related and other crimes.  Genovese now faces more than a decade in prison for defrauding his victims.”

According to the allegations set forth in the Complaint and Indictment filed against GENOVESE in Manhattan federal court, and statements made in public court filings and proceedings including GENOVESE’s sentencing hearing:

In or about 2015, GENOVESE began soliciting individuals to invest in the hedge fund that became Willow Creek, which was based in New York, New York.  In doing so, GENOVESE represented, among other things, that he was part of the Genovese family that had owned the Genovese Drug Store chain in the New York area and was an heir to this family’s fortune from the sale of that business for hundreds of millions of dollars in the late 1990s; that he had graduated from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business; and that he had extensive Wall Street experience.  In particular, GENOVESE claimed that he had been a Goldman Sachs partner and a Bear Sterns portfolio manager before forming Willow Creek.  Based in part on these claims, victims invested $11,211,704 with GENOVESE. 

These representations were false.  GENOVESE is not related to the Genovese family that owned and sold the Genovese Drug Store Chain, did not attend the Tuck School of Business, and had never worked for Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns.  GENOVESE also did not tell his investors that he had multiple prior felony convictions for fraud-related offenses including forgery, identity theft, and grand larceny.

When investors began to ask for their money back, GENOVESE put them off.  He told one investor that he would only return that investor’s funds after “the stars have aligned,” or else there would be a risk that almost all the money would be lost as a result of the purported impracticalities of unwinding unspecified trading positions.  Records indicate that GENOVESE lost approximately $8 million trading in TD Ameritrade accounts between January 2015 and December 2017.  GENOVESE also used proceeds of his fraud to purchase various luxuries for himself.

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GENOVESE, 54, was born and raised in Illinois and is a resident of New York, New York.  In addition to his prison term, GENOVESE was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution to his victims in the amount of $11,211,704 in addition to forfeiture of the proceeds of his crime. 

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the New York Regional Office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Samson Enzer is in charge of the prosecution.  

Topic(s): 
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-065
Updated February 14, 2020