A Dix Hills man has admitted to conning friends and neighbors out of $5 million by getting them to invest in his Ponzi scheme over an eight-year span until his arrest last year.
Robert Rocco pleaded guilty Tuesday at Central Islip federal court to wire fraud.
“Rather than make sound investment decisions as he had promised, Robert Rocco fleeced friends, neighbors, and colleagues and used their money to fund his own lavish lifestyle,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Prosecutors said the 49-year-old scammer promised up to 18-percent returns to investors in a series of businesses that he formed between 2006 and 2013.
Those businesses included Limestone Capital Services, Advent Merchant Services and Advent Equity Partners, which purportedly provided loans to finance wholesale cigarette purchases and a credit card processing venture.
But, instead of investing the money, he misappropriated the money and solicited money from new investors, which he used to pay purported profits to earlier investors, authorities said.
He went as far as to send account statements to investors that falsely showed that investors’ accounts had earned high rates of return.
He also stole $66,915 in checks from the Dix Hills Soccer Club, of which he was the president, leaving the soccer club with no funds to operate. He later sought and received donations to allow the club to continue operations.
He faces up to 20 years in prison, more than $250,000 in fines and $3,498,940.13 in restitution.