Ten people, including six from Atlantic County, have been indicted for their part in an alleged $3 million mail and wire fraud conspiracy involving time share mortgages, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Thursday morning, Jan. 24.
The six people from Atlantic County included: Adam Lacerda, 28, and his wife, Ashley R. Lacerda, 32, of Egg Harbor Township; Ian Resnick, 37, of Absecon; Steven Cox, 48, of Ventnor City; Francis Santore, 52, of Northfield; and Joseph Diventi, 32, of Somers Point.
The other four who were indicted were: Alfred Giordano, 32, of Hurry County, S.C.; Brian Corley, 27, of Little River, S.C.; Joseph Saxon, 38, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; and Genevieve Manzoni, 46, of Lake Worth, Fla.
Resnick, Saxon and Manzoni were previously charged by criminal complaint, according to Fishman. Adam and Ashley Lacerda, along with Cox, Giordano, Santore, Corley and Diventi were previously indicted on the same charges by a federal grand jury in Trenton on May 3, 2012, Fishman said.
All defendants were charged with 38 counts of mail and wire fraud conspiracy, which carries with it a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Adam and Ashley Lacerda were also charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries an additional 20 years in prison and $500,00 fine. They also face an additional 10 years in prison for each money laundering count in which they are charged, Fishman said.
According to the indictment filed on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and the previous indictments, the defendants participated in a scheme in which members of the Vacation Ownership (VO) Group convinced owners of certain timeshares to “pay off their mortgages” through the VO Group.
The defendants contacted owners who procured their timeshares through Flagship Resort Development, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc., and other developers. They allegedly convinced these timeshare owners they could pay off their mortgages at a lower rate, often by as much as 50 percent, by submitting payments to the VO Group via a P.O. Box mailing address in Pleasantville. They also told timeshare owners they could have their mortgages canceled or their timeshares sold by sending money to the VO Group.
However, upon receiving the payments, the defendants kept the money instead of putting it toward the owners’ mortgages in any way, Fishman said.
Additionally, upon reaching an agreement with timeshare owners to send money to the VO Group, the defendants sent documents they told the owners were documents to cancel or reduce their mortgages, but instead were leases for new timeshares. The defendants would purchase timeshares in these victims’ names, Fishman said.
These incidents took place between March 2009 and Sept. 1, 2011. Law enforcement officials began their investigation in July of 2010, Fishman said.
During the investigation, law enforcement officials interviewed 225 victims, many of whom were elderly and therefore more susceptible to the scheme, Fishman said. Law enforcement officials estimated the victims were defrauded for more than $3 million.
Any additional fraud victims should contact the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency at 609-677-6400.
Fishman credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez in Newark; and special agents from the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Panella, New York Region, for the investigation leading to today’s Indictment. He also thanked the N.J. Department of Labor, Benefit Payment Control Unit, for its assistance.