CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A series of delays and postponements ended today when a federal judge sentenced “Suite Scam” artist Robert Sucarato to 11 years in prison — several years longer than she’d originally planned — for bilking investors of $1.6 million.
Robert Sucarato (a/k/a: Succati)
Sucarato repeatedly shook his head as Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Stephen Stigall spoke during this morning’s sentencing in U.S. District Court in Camden.
U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb, who watched him carefully, said Sucurato obviously continued to “show no remorse” for what she called “an agregious crime.”
Sucarato originally accepted a sentence that would run from 78 to 97 months when he pleaded guilty more than a year ago.
But things changed.
As is their right under the law, victims can tell the judge what the convicted criminal did to them. It often provides a measure of comfort, even closure, to confront their tormentor.
But it can also influence the judge.
After hearing several heartbreaking tales, Bumb postponed sentencing and ordered that Sucurato be returned to federal detention. Besides the longer prison term, Bumb ordered Sucarato to pay $1.165 million in restitution and to remain under federal supervision for three years after his release.
Among those who wrote to the judge is Joseph Schorle.
Schorle told Bumb of how Sucarato married his niece, then conned his family out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. After Schorle uncovered the fraud, relatives inexplicably called him the liar.
Sucarato shattered his niece’s dreams and “destroyed a once-cohesive family,” he said.
“He is inherently evil,” Schorle said. “He became a family member of and lived with the people he was stealing money from while lying to them daily from morning to night. It was a game for him. He knew but did not care that not only would their money be gone but that their hearts would be broken because they believed in him and loved him so strongly.”
“Even after my niece kicked him out he was back in the same community using an alias to con at least two unsuspecting women that we know of.”
The Bernard Madoff scandal made investors wary that they could get double-digit returns in a collapsing market, despite Sucarato‘s promises as owner and president of New York Financial Company (“NYFC”), a hedge fund firm that did its business online while he pretended to operate prestigious offices with large staffs.
Investors began asking questions, and soon federal regulators were on his tail, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, who credited special agents of the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency for the intricate investigation that led to today’s sentence.
Federal prosecutors said Sucarato, who CLIFFVIEW PILOT found has used the name Robert Succati on Facebook, pulled what is known as a “Suite Scam”: He holed himself up in a funky, flatiron-styled building at the 22nd floor of 67 Wall Street, an historic revival tower, where he rented “virtual space” for $100 a month. He then shifted his base of operations to an equally powerful address: 501 Fifth Avenue.
He had office space, conference rooms, and receptionists shared with several other companies for a nominal rent — $100 a month.
Sucarato, a 42-year-old former School Board candidate in Old Bridge, admitted lying about his bona fides, including that he managed a pair of hedge funds since 1993 that outperformed the market. He also claimed to hold a B.S. in finance and economics, magna cum laude, from NYU — but never went to school there, according to a federal complaint.
Suarato boasted of officers and managers, as well as a staff of “over 20 experienced traders,” and cited $7.2 billion in assets, with a 10-year compounded return exceeding 1800% — all bogus.
Sucarato admitted creating a false audit report, purportedly prepared by a major accounting firm, that showed NYFC with a net worth of nearly $800 million, and even provided quarterly statements in order to maintain the investors’ confidence in their investment with NYFC.
At the same time, Sucarato was moving money around bank accounts and pulling out what he wanted when he wanted, for shopping sprees at Macy‘s, Teddy Bear, L.L. Bean, and elsewhere.
Filched investors couldn’t be blamed for being impressed — at least those who weren’t from out-of-state and managed to pop into his office for an appointment.
In soliciting, accepting, and receiving money from individuals to invest in the Funds, Sucarato acted as a “commodity pool operator” and was, therefore, required to be registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”). That didn’t happen, federal authorites said.
Victims have expressed gratitude that U.S. Attorney Paul S. Fishman, New Jersey’s top federal lawman, is not only tracking down such thieves but also winning cases that carry stiff sentences, as well as orders of restitution. These allow taxpayers to recover some of the losses, given how many livelihoods – and lives – are being ruined, while providing closure to some. Fishman said he hopes the prosecutions and resulting sentences also deter other cheaters from creating more innocent victims.
Federal regulators have fined Sucarato $3.2 million and ordered him to repay investors.
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