Glen Rock man admits to running phony investment company


BY STEPHANIE AKIN

He promised unsuspecting clients lucrative returns on investments including a casino on “the last oceanfront property in Atlantic City,” a pizzeria in the Bahamas and a Florida apartment community.
But Paul Mancuso, 49, a Glen Rock resident who authorities say has ties to organized crime, admitted in federal court in Newark on Thursday that the investment schemes were scams, concocted by himself and a business partner – a disbarred New York attorney who has denied his role in the alleged scheme – to finance his involvement in illegal gambling, law enforcement officials said.
In a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini, Mancuso said that he conspired with Pasquale Stiso, 53, to defraud 15 victims of more than $3 million, according to United States Attorney Paul Fishman’s office.
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Mancuso’s attorney, Stacy Biancamano, declined to comment. Stiso’s attorney, Ernesto Cerimele, could not be immediately reached Thursday.
Mancuso acknowledged in court that he had posed as a real-estate investor, broker and “hard money” lender since 2009, according to a press release and court records. He also admitted that he and Stiso had fraudulently obtained financing from the investors for projects that did not exist or in which they had no actual involvement.
Court records show that Mancuso was caught on wiretaps promoting the fake investments.
He told clients that he had bought tickets to concerts and sporting events at wholesale rates and then sold them to the general public at inflated prices, that he was investing in a pizzeria in the Bahamas and that he was involved in an effort to build a casino on the beach in Atlantic City, among other ventures, according to law enforcement officials and court records.
Court records also show that federal authorities say Mancuso was a confidential informant for the FBI in Newark from 2008 to 2011, when the FBI terminated the relationship because it became aware of his illegal activities.
After he learned he was under investigation for the investment scheme, Mancuso was caught on several wiretaps trying to determine whether his victims had spoken with law enforcement officials and to assuage them with, “false promises of money coming to them,” according to court records.
In a letter filed with Martini in June, prosecutors provided details about Mancuso’s connections to organized crime, noting that “the Defendant had ties to the Bonanno crime family of La Cosa Nostra, one of the five New York families, and that he was intercepted on the wiretaps speaking with a Bonanno crime family member on multiple occasions.”
In pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud Thursday, Mancuso faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss associated with the offense, whichever is greater, federal authorities said. Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of the $3.4 million they say he and Stiso made from the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 12.
Email: akin@northjersey.com