A Staten Island, N.Y., financial advisor who bilked friends and elderly people out of $14 million in savings has been convicted of mail fraud.
Joseph Mazella, 52, who operated a Ponzi scheme through the Great Atlantic Group and affiliated companies he operated, faces up to 25 years in prison after a U.S. District Court jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., reached a guilty verdict on Thursday following a two-week trial.
"The evidence at trial showed that the defendant callously and systematically defrauded his victims of their lives' savings," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch "Mazella's victims, many of whom are senior citizens on a fixed income, turned to him to ensure their security in their golden years. Instead, their security was raided to fund his fraud, and they will feel the impact of Mazella's crimes for the rest of their lives."
Mazella claimed he was investing their money in real estate projects that would return high yields, but instead was putting their money in risky projects in poor areas. He also diverted money for his own use while assuring people he would watch out for their interests. He promised one woman he would treat her like his mother, while stealing the $69,000 her husband had left her, Lynch said.
He also used his clients' money to buy a Porsche and pay off a mortgage, as well as paying for other personal expenses and paying early investors, according to prosecutors.