Wantagh Man Arrested for Loan Sharking

Francis Bongarzone was arrested Thursday and accused of loan sharking.
Francis Bongarzone was arrested Thursday and accused of loan sharking.

A 53-year-old Wantagh man convicted three decades ago for solicitation in a murder-for-hire plot was arrested Thursday for an alleged loan sharking scheme that netted more than $100,000 in interest, authorities said.

Francis Bongarzone, also known as “Frankie Chase,” was arraigned before Judge Joy Watson at Nassau District Court Friday on a felony charge of first-degree criminal usury and for varying counts of criminal possession of a weapon for several loaded guns allegedly found in his home.

Watson set bail at $250,000. The judge declined prosecutors request of $1 million bail. He is due back in court on Wednesday.

The year-long investigation uncovered an alleged loan scheme of at least $50,000 that enabled Bongarzone to collect more than $100,000 in interest of more than 100 percent per loan from at least a half-dozen victims, prosecutors said. Authorities also accused him of threatening victims who were unable to pay him back.

A search warrant executed on Thursday led Nassau County District Attorney investigators to a 9mm Glock with two 17-round high capacity magazines, two .38 caliber revolvers with more than 70 rounds of ammunition, two switchblades and a “blackjack”—a leather-covered piece of lead designed to knock out victims struck in the head, authorities said.

Investigators also found records that prosecutors said allegedly confirms Bongarzone’s loan activities.

“Mr. Bongarzone’s brand of banking has victimized others and resulted in charges that bring with them the threat of a long stay in prison,” Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “I ask any other victims of this individual to come forward and contact my office to assist with this investigation.”

Bongarzone was previously convicted in 1984 for soliciting another person in a murder-for-hire plot, authorities said.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.