Leon Vaccarelli, a former investment advisor and broker in Waterbury, Conn., was convicted late last month on 21 counts of fraud and money laundering in a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $1.5 million.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed similar charges against Vaccarelli, now 42, about two years ago. The regulator claimed that at least nine clients, many of whom are elderly, were among his victims. That case against Vacarelli is ongoing.
But the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Connecticut said the fraud was even more widespread, with a total of 15 victims. Vaccarelli, who was previously a broker with The Investment Center and an investment advisor with IC Advisory Services, told clients he would invest their money in interest-earning investments, when, in reality, he used the funds to pay business and personal expenses, including tuition and mortgage payments. He used some of it to pay off other investors.
Victims included an elderly woman, a woman with diminished capacity, a retired schoolteacher, a retired construction worker and medical professionals.
The defense reportedly argued that alcohol played a role in his bad judgement.
Vaccarelli was released on $100,000 bond prior to his sentencing on Aug. 22; he could face decades in prison.
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