Multi-Million-Dollar Real Estate Ponzi Schemer Admits Securities Fraud and Money Laundering
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 04, 2013|
NEWARK—A Somerset County, New Jersey man pleaded guilty today to one count of securities fraud and one count of money laundering, admitting that he defrauded victims of an investment scheme by misusing their capital contributions and misrepresenting the performance of their investments, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
David Connolly, 51, of Watchung, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to counts one and 10 of a superseding indictment before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court.
Connolly was originally charged by Indictment on May 16, 2012. On January 23, 2013, the grand jury returned a 15-count superseding indictment charging Connolly with one count of securities fraud, six counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From at least 2006 through October 2009, Connolly orchestrated a real estate investment fraud scheme in which he took in more than $50 million from more than 200 victims, causing losses of at least $9 million.
To induce victims to invest, Connolly made various types of materially false and misleading statements and omissions. He told victims their money would be used to purchase a specific property, and the property would generate rental income that would be used to pay investors monthly distributions. Connolly also told victims their money would be held in escrow until the closing of a purported real estate transaction, and each property would be financially independent from all the others. Connolly misrepresented the amount of equity victims had in the properties, the condition of the properties, and the financial performance of the properties. Although the investment properties experienced significant negative cash flow, Connolly told investors they were performing well.
Connolly took significant portions of his victims’ money, which had been provided for specific real estate transactions, and used it for other purposes, without disclosing the diversions of funds to victims. These included funding unrelated real estate transactions in which Connolly was engaged; paying prior victims; and paying himself. The scheme collapsed in the summer of 2009, after Connolly began to default on the mortgage payments for the investment properties.
Connolly faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine on the securities fraud count and a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the money laundering charges. He also agreed to forfeit $9.92 million as part of the plea agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for June 4, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s indictment. He also thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for their important contributions to the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlton A. Rugg of the OCDETF Unit and Senior Litigation Counsel Leslie F. Schwartz of the Economic Crimes Unit.
If you believe you are a victim of or otherwise have information concerning this alleged scheme, you are encouraged to contact the FBI at 973-792-3000.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.