A Melville man pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud charges in a $200 million Ponzi scheme involving wholesale jewelry sales.
Gregory Altieri, 53, faces up to 20 years in prison in the case. Federal authorities said Altieri solicited between $75 million and $85 million from more than 80 investors in his organization, LNA Associates, telling them he would purchase jewelry at “closeout” prices and then resold for a higher profit.
While Altieri initially purchased some jewelry with their money, since approximately May 2018, he used money from new investors to pay earlier investors, representing to the latter group that they were receiving returns on their investments. These “returns” were used by Altieri to convince the earlier investors to keep their money with LNA Associates by “rolling over” their funds into new investments based on false promises to use this money to purchase additional jewelry.
As part of the plea, Altieri also admitted to committing securities fraud in connection with the scheme. Wednesday’s proceeding took place before United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan in Brooklyn federal court.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty plea. “With today’s guilty plea, Altieri is held accountable for duping dozens of investors, including retirees living off their pensions,” DuCharme said. “The defendant’s lies have caught up to him and he will now face the consequences of his fraudulent scheme.”