An Ocean County, New Jersey, attorney today admitted his role in a scheme that defrauded investors in connection with a Facebook IPO and several real estate deals, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Fred Todd, 61, of Lakewood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of transacting in criminal proceeds.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Todd is an attorney with offices in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, California. His two co-defendants, Eliyahu Weinstein, 39, of Lakewood, and Aaron Glucksman, 41, of Brooklyn, New York, have already pleaded guilty to charges related to their roles in the scheme.
Weinstein, already convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison in a separate Ponzi scheme, pleaded guilty on Sept. 3, 2014, to three counts of an indictment pending against him: one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of committing wire fraud while on pretrial release, and one count of money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges on Dec. 15, 2014.
Glucksman has also pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Judge Pisano on May 5, 2014, to 52 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered him to forfeit $1.2 million. Judge Pisano ordered Glucksman’s sentence to run partially concurrently with a 36-month sentence recently imposed by U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York in an unrelated case.
In February 2012, Todd and his conspirators offered a pair of investors (referred to in the information as the “Facebook victims”) the opportunity to purchase large blocks of Facebook shares prior to the company’s initial public offering, or IPO, in May 2012. The offer was particularly attractive because large blocks of the shares were extremely difficult to get and were expected to increase in value at the time of the IPO. Weinstein and his conspirators did not actually have access to the shares.
Based on misrepresentations by the conspirators, the Facebook victims wired millions of dollars between February and March of 2012 to an account Weinstein and a conspirator controlled. Weinstein and another conspirator provided investors with false documents showing companies owned by various conspirators held assets, which would secure the Facebook victims’ investment.
The conspirators did not use any of the Facebook victims’ money to purchase Facebook shares, instead misappropriating it for their own use.
Around the same time, Todd and his conspirators also persuaded victims to invest in the purported purchase of an apartment complex in Florida. They told the victims that Weinstein had the opportunity to purchase the notes on the condominiums at a discounted price and immediately flip it at a substantial profit. The victims wired money to complete the purchase, but Todd and his conspirators instead used the money for their own purposes.
The conspiracy count to which Todd pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; the transacting in criminal proceeds count carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. Both are also punishable by a potential fine of $250,000 or twice the gross loss or gain from the scheme, whichever is greater.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, for their role in the investigation.
The government is represented by Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig; Gurbir S. Grewal, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Intrater of the Economic Crimes Unit; and Evan S. Weitz of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorney’s offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.