A Staten Island-based financial advisor who bilked elderly people and his friends out of $12 million is on trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn for wire fraud and other charges.
Joseph Mazella, who was supposedly investing people's money in real estate projects, even told one 82-year-old widow he would treat her like his mother, but he lost all of the $69,000 her husband had left her, says the U.S. Attorney's office.
Many of the victims are testifying at the trial, says Robert Nardoza, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
Mazella operated a Ponzi scheme through Great Atlantic Group and affiliated companies based on Staten Island. He used some of the money to pay off new investors but used some to pay a mortgage, buy a Porsche and pay other family and personal expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
He supposedly was investing people's money from 2007 through 2010 in real estate projects in Trenton, N.J, a warehouse in Utica, N.Y., and a golf course development project. He promised them high returns without the risk of the stock market.
Mazella's attorney, Ephraim Savitt has said Mazella is an honest man whose investments went bad during poor economic times.