An ex-Dix Hills Soccer Club president has been indicted on federal charges that he allegedly conned friends and neighbors into joining a $5 million Ponzi scheme over the past eight years, authorities said.
Robert Rocco, 48, pleaded not guilty Tuesday at Central Islip federal court on charges of wire and mail fraud, including the alleged theft of $66,915 from the soccer club in 2010. He was reportedly released on $500,000 bond.
“Rocco mastered the role of con artist when he traded upon his relationship with friends and colleagues with empty promises of high financial returns in exchange for their investments,” said George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Prosecutors said Rocco promised 18 percent annual returns to club members, volunteers, friends and neighbors who invested in businesses that he formed, including Limestone Capital Services, Advent Merchant Services LLC and Advent Equity Partners LLC.
Rocco allegedly told the victims that the ventures included providing loans to finance wholesale cigarette purchases on behalf of a Shinnecock Nation tobacco shop and a credit card processing company between 2006 and 2013.
He allegedly solicited money from new investors to pay purported profits to earlier investors to conceal misappropriations of the earlier investments, going as far as sending fraudulent account statements to investors that falsely showed that investors’ accounts had earned high rates of return, authorities said.