Manhattan Man Pleads Guilty To Participating In Multimillion-Dollar Securities Fraud Scheme
Joseph Meli Defrauded More than 130 Investors Who Invested More than $95 Million and Diverted Fraudulent Proceeds to His Own Use and to Repay Prior Investors
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSEPH MELI pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to securities fraud. Between 2015 and January 2017, MELI conducted a scheme to defraud more than approximately 130 investors who invested a total of more than approximately $95 million through false representations that MELI would use investor funds to purchase tickets to various live events for resale at a profit on the secondary market. MELI pled guilty earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As he admitted in court today, Joseph Meli created his own theatrical production – a fictitious business that purported to have access to blocks of tickets to Broadway shows and other events. In fact, Meli was deceiving investors into giving him money that he pocketed to fund his own extravagant lifestyle. Now he awaits sentencing for running a Ponzi scheme.”
According to allegations in the superseding Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, previous court filings, and statements made in public court proceedings:
From at least in or about 2015 through in or about January 2017, MELI conducted a scheme to defraud more than approximately 130 investors who invested a total of more than approximately $95 million through false representations that MELI would use investor funds to purchase tickets to various live events for resale at a profit on the secondary market. In fact, MELI utilized a substantial portion of the investor funds he obtained for MELI’s personal expenses – including payments for a $3 million house in East Hampton, New York, a 2017 Porsche convertible, and expensive watches and jewelry – and to make payments, in a Ponzi-like manner, to previous investors in MELI’s ticket fraud scheme and in unrelated hedge fund.
In furtherance of the fraudulent scheme, MELI falsely represented to investors that he had entered into written agreements with production companies for popular Broadway shows and with management companies for popular singers and music bands (together, the “Production and Management Companies”) to purchase large blocks of tickets to the shows and performances. In truth and in fact, MELI had not entered into such agreements and did not have any contractual rights to purchase such tickets from the Production and Management Companies.
In furtherance of the scheme, moreover, MELI provided investors with falsified documents purporting to reflect agreements between MELI’s company, Advance Entertainment, LLC (“Advance”), and the Production and Management Companies, in which the Production and Management Companies agreed to sell Advance large blocks of tickets to the shows or performances. In truth and in fact, the Production and Management Companies had not entered into agreements to sell tickets to MELI or Advance. These fake agreements listed, as authorized representatives entering into the agreements on behalf of the Production and Management Companies, the names of individuals within those organizations, and furthermore contained fraudulent signatures of these individuals.
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MELI, 43, of New York, New York, pled guilty to one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000,000. In addition, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Government, MELI agreed to forfeit proceeds of the offense and to pay restitution to the victims of the offense. MELI is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kimba M. Wood on January 31, 2018.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elisha J. Kobre and Brendan F. Quigley are in charge of the prosecution.