New York Financial Adviser Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud Professional Athlete Clients
SAN DIEGO, CA—United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced today that Joseph Vaccaro, financial advisor for professional athletes and entertainers, has admitted to plotting to defraud investors in a multimillion dollar investment scheme.
As set forth in his Plea Agreement, on June 5, 2014, Vaccaro and co-defendant Vincent “Vinnie” Porter flew to California to meet with a financial advisor for professional athletes. Unbeknownst to Vaccaro and Porter, the financial advisor was working as a confidential informant for the FBI. At the covertly recorded meeting, Vaccaro pitched the FBI informant on a fraudulent scheme they could use to convince clients to purchase Burger King franchises and some associated real estate for $15 million.
As part of his plea agreement, Vaccaro admits that over the next few months, he and Porter devised a plot to hoodwink investors by telling them that the Burger King franchises would be purchased for $37 million, when in fact their true value was less than half that amount. The conspirators also concealed the fact that they intended to take millions of dollars “off the top” of the deal, and fraudulently take a 50% ownership interest in the franchises themselves. Vaccaro and Porter discussed the fraudulent conspiracy with the FBI informant, who eventually arranged for the two men to travel to San Diego to convince a purported client to invest in the franchises.
Vaccaro also admitted that on October 1, 2014, he and Porter flew back to California to meet with who they thought were a wealthy potential investor and her financial advisor, and to convince the investor to pay $2 million towards the Burger King deal. In actual fact, however, both the potential investor and financial advisor were undercover FBI agents. During the covertly recorded meeting, Vaccaro continued to solicit the undercover FBI agent to invest in the Burger King deal by falsely stating that Vaccaro had secured millions of dollars from other investors, and that the eventual purchase price of the Burger King franchises would not be less than “$35 million.” As the conspirators had discussed earlier, however, they actually planned to purchase the franchises for approximately $16 million, and would simply pocket the difference between investors’ payments and the actual purchase price. At the conclusion of the meeting with undercover FBI agents, both Vaccaro and Porter were arrested.
Vaccaro is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant. Porter has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is next scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Bashant on March 23, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
*An indictment or complaint is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the Government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- JOSEPH VACCARO
- Age: 36
- Howell, New Jersey
- Case Number: 14cr3171-BAS
SUMMARY OF CHARGE
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349—Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud. Maximum penalties: 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine, term of supervised release of three years, restitution, forfeiture, and $100 special assessment.
Federal Bureau of Investigation