Great Atlantic Group President Found Guilty in Ponzi Scheme

The president of Great Atlantic Group Inc., a Staten Island, New York-based real estate consulting firm, was convicted at a trial of running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $14 million.

Prosecutors told jurors in Brooklyn, New York, that Joseph Mazella, 52, solicited money by falsely claiming that he’d invest client money in real estate projects including a warehouse and golf course in upstate New York. After a two-week trial, jurors today found Mazella guilty of securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn said in a statement.

“Mazella’s victims, many of whom are senior citizens on a fixed income, turned to him to ensure their security in their golden years,” Lynch said. “Instead, their security was raided to fund his fraud, and they will feel the impact of Mazella’s crimes for the rest of their lives.”

Mazella used investor money to pay his mortgage, make payments on a Porsche and cover other expenses, Lynch said. He took in more than $14 million from January 2007 to December 2010, telling investors he’d provide a fixed rate of return, she said.

He faces as much as 25 years in prison when sentenced.

In a Ponzi scheme, money from new investors is used to pay earlier investors.

The case is U.S. v. Mazella, 11-cr-00300, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Kary in New York at tkary@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.