Posted on

Middletown Investment Manager and Former Fire Chief Convicted of Running Ponzi Scheme to Steal More Than $10 Million


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Middletown NJ,  An investment manager with an office in Middletown, New Jersey, has been convicted of running a Ponzi scheme, concealing losses, faking investment returns, and stealing more than $10 million in investor money, U.S Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Vicent P. Falci, 59, of Middletown, was convicted of all four counts of a superseding indictment: three counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. He was convicted Dec. 13, 2018, following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before returning the verdict.

According to the superseding indictment and evidence at trial:

Falci controlled a number of investment funds under the names “Saber Funds” and “Vicor Tax Receivables LLP.” The Saber Funds were a collection of investment funds that Falci created and operated, starting in the early 2000s. Many of his earliest victims were friends, family, and associates. Falci served as a fire chief in Middletown, and some victims were policemen, fireman, and retirement funds for first responders. The Saber Funds grew to have more than 200 investors from whom the defendant raised more than $10 million.

Falci falsely told investors that the Saber Funds were conservatively invested in tax liens – which generated high returns with little risk. In reality, Falci diverted investor money to himself, his family, and to other companies he controlled. Some of the diverted funds were used for riskier ventures, such as day trading and real estate. Falci concealed losses and his own theft from investors. Based on these misrepresentations, investors continued to entrust additional funds to Falci and left previous investments under his control.

In early 2012, Falci started the Vicor Fund, targeting wealthier investors with greater sophistication in financial affairs. The investors in the Vicor Fund included financial industry professionals, and Falci ultimately raised $20 million from these victims. He again falsely represented that he had experience and a track record of success investing in tax liens, and promised that he could produce high rates of return with little risk. In reality, the assets of the Vicor Fund were rapidly depleted by Falci’s theft. 

In order to support his own lifestyle and repay investors the gains he had promised, Falci stole more than $10 million from the Vicor Fund between 2012 and 2016. At the same time, he reported fake investment gains to his investors on monthly statements. Falci concealed his theft in several ways, including by diverting funds to a fake company that he created to steal from investors. He also forged emails and reports, and created fake assets for the fund.

Each charge of wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of securities fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited inspectors of U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn, with the investigation leading to today’s verdict. He also thanked the N.J. Bureau of Securities in the State Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Bureau Chief Christopher Gerrold, for its assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Herring, Chief of the Cybercrimes Unit, and Paul A. Murphy, Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Posted on

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Removes Dangerous Hungarian fugitive

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Newark NJ,  A 38-year-old Hungarian citizen, wanted in his home country for the offenses of theft and assault with a firearm, was removed from the United States on Thursday, December 6th, by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). ICE-ERO Officers turned Imre RACZ over to Hungarian authorities at the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

RACZ entered the United States as a visitor on June 10, 2016, through Miami International Airport in Miami, FL. He overstayed his authorized admission of 90 days, under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

On October 10, 2018, RACZ was arrested outside his residence in Lakewood, NJ by ICE ERO officers. On the same date, ICE issued a Final Administrative Removal Order.

“This individual’s crime history in his home country shows that he is a dangerous person who warranted removal from the community and the U.S.,” said John Tsoukaris Field Office Director for ICE ERO Newark.

Posted on

Secaucus Women Charged With “Slavery”

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Secaucus NJ, A Secaucus, New Jersey, woman was arraigned today on charges of holding a Sri Lankan national against her will and for years forcing the victim to work without pay as a domestic servant, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity, a/k/a “Alia Al Qaterneh,” 43, of Secaucus, New Jersey, was indicted Dec. 4, 2018, on charges of forced labor, alien harboring, and marriage fraud. She was arraigned today before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in Camden federal court and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. She remains free on $150,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Hunaity brought the victim to the United States on a temporary visa in 2009 for the victim to perform domestic services. Hunaity caused the victim to overstay the victim’s visa, and the victim remained in the United States illegally, living exclusively with Hunaity for more than nine years. Hunaity forced the victim to work without pay, and limited the victim’s interactions with the outside world. In 2018, Hunaity forced the victim to marry Hunaity for the purpose of obtaining legal residence for the victim so that the victim could continue to work without pay for Hunaity.

Hunaity was arrested on Sept.19, 2018, and made her initial appearance that day before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Cathy L. Waldor.

The forced labor charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the alien harboring and marriage fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charges subject Hunaity to a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to others, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael, with the investigation leading to the indictment.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Posted on

SUV Backs Into House in Hawthorne

photos courtesy of Boyd Loving’s Facebook

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Hawthorne NJ, A Honda SUV being backed out of a driveway slammed into the front of a 2-family Hawthorne residence shortly after 7 PM on Tuesday, 12/11. Hawthorne Police, Hawthorne Fire, and Hawthorne EMS responded to the incident, which was located in the 100 block of Passaic Avenue at the corner of Loretto Avenue, Hawthorne. The SUV’s female driver complained of a non life threatening back injury and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation. Moderate structural damage was reported to the struck residence. A flatbed tow truck removed the wrecked vehicle from the scene.

Posted on

Passaic County Man Charged With Scamming Insurance Benefits

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Pompton Lakes NJ,  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that a Passaic County man has been charged with insurance fraud and related offenses for allegedly receiving $60,000 in insurance benefits to which he was not entitled by submitting forged documents showing medical treatments for illnesses he did not have.

Todd Eckel, 47, of Pompton Lakes, was indicted on charges of second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception, third-degree attempted theft by deception, and fourth-degree forgery in connection with four claims he filed with American Heritage Life Insurance Company (“American Heritage”). The indictment was handed up yesterday by a state Grand Jury in Trenton.

Between February 2016 and November 2017 Eckel allegedly submitted forged physician statements in four separate insurance claims to reinforce the false impression that he was treated for a heart attack, Parkinson’s disease, coronary artery disease, and a stroke.

American Heritage, a subsidiary of Allstate, paid Eckel $20,000 for each of the first three claims.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000; fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to eighteen months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Posted on

ICE arrests Mexican, Honduran nationals after New Jersey County declines detainers


June 1,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

NEWARK NJ, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested two individuals, one from Mexico and one from Honduras, after they were released from the custody of Middlesex County with active ICE detainers in place.

On April 14, 2016, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on Elder Antonio Quintero Rodriguez, a Honduran citizen. On May 19, 2017, the facility released him from custody without notifying ICE. Quintero Rodriguez has a felony conviction of endangering abuse; the neglect of a child. ERO Newark officers arrested him in New Brunswick, New Jersey, May 30, 2017.

On April 21, 2017, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on Rolando Herrera Saavedra, a Mexican citizen. On April 29, 2017, the facility released him from custody without notifying ICE. Herrera Saavedra is currently facing state criminal charges. ERO Newark officers arrested Herrera Saavedra in Long Branch, New Jersey, May 24, 2017.

Neither Herrera Saavedra nor Quintero Rodriguez has lawful status in the United States. Both remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

“As a nation, we must protect the integrity of our immigration system and aggressively pursue the removal of illegal criminal aliens; this is one of ICE’s top priorities,” said John Tsoukaris, ERO Newark field office director. “ICE shares the county’s ultimate objective to protect public safety and national security while simultaneously preserving the critical community-police bond; however, counties such as Middlesex that fail to work with ICE in the transfer of custody of criminal aliens, place the citizens of their communities at serious risk.”

In fiscal year 2016, ICE removed or returned 240,255 individuals. Of this total, 174,923 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 65,332 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority was convicted criminals.

Posted on

Epic Pot Farm Found in New Jersey Couple’s Garage, Officials Say


In total, officials estimated the street value of the operation to be worth about $3 million

Authorities recovered nearly 1,500 budding marijuana plants from a New Jersey home in what they’re calling one of the biggest pot seizures in Essex County history.

Sherline Dare, 37, and her husband, 41-year-old Densley Lawrence, allegedly ran the pot growing operation, which officials estimate was worth about $3 million, out of their single-family home near Springdale Avenue in East Orange.

Source: Epic Pot Farm Found in New Jersey Couple’s Garage, Officials Say | NBC New York

Posted on

N.J. immigration attorney charged with visa fraud, identity theft


By Jeff Goldman | NJ Advance Media for
on April 07, 2017 at 2:45 PM, updated April 07, 2017 at 2:46 PM

An immigration attorney from New Jersey has been charged with visa fraud for submitting more than 150 phony forms on behalf of his clients in an effort to grant them an exception to stay in the country, authorities said.

Charles J. Lore, 43, of Denville, drafted the fraudulent I-129 forms in connection with applications for temporary non-immigrant worker visas, known as O-1 visas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release.

Posted on

‘Holy Spirit’ told me to defecate in church, N.J. man reportedly told cops


by Jeff Goldman | NJ Advance Media for
on March 30, 2017 at 2:30 PM

A 65-year-old New Jersey man told police that the “Holy Spirit” told him to urinate and defecate in a church confessional in Connecticut, according to reports.

Donald R. Hurt, of Newark, was arrested after a custodian at Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist in Stamford found him naked at 2 p.m. Wednesday, said.

Posted on

‘The Watcher’ strikes again: 4th, more ‘sinister’ letter received, lawyer says

the watcher

By Tom Haydon | NJ Advance Media for
on March 29, 2017 at 8:45 AM, updated March 29, 2017 at 11:13 AM

WESTFIELD — A mysterious stalker known only as “The Watcher” has sent a fourth threatening letter to a township home that arrived in February, less than three weeks after a renter moved into the infamous home.

Derek and Maria Broaddus, the owners of the six-bedroom house on Boulevard, bought the property for $1.3 million in June 2014 and within days received the first letter from somebody identifying himself as “The Watcher.”

Two more letters arrived in the following weeks, all containing threats, two of them asking if the owners had “young blood,” a reference to children. The owners, who have children, refused to move into the home.