By Brecken Branstrator
New York—A Long Island man has been charged with one count of wire fraud for allegedly running a two-year, $200 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Gregory Altieri, president of LNA Associates, has been arrested and indicted for concocting a scheme constructed around wholesale jewelry deals and promises of big profits.

Court papers state that starting in August 2017, Altieri solicited between $75 million and $85 million from more than 80 investors across Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and other locations to buy jewelry at closeout prices then resell it for more money.

He allegedly provided investors with “jewelry lot sheets” he had created, which purported to identify specific jewelry purchases his company made and the dates by which the investors would receive a certain return on their investments.

Initially, he promised them a 30 percent return within 90 to 150 days, but by about May 2018, he had bumped that up to a 50 percent to 70 percent return within that period.

According to the indictment, Altieri initially did use investor money to purchase some of the jewelry. But sometime around May 2018, he started using new investors’ money to pay back earlier investors, telling the latter they were receiving their returns when, in fact, much of the information on the lot sheets was false.

He then used these “returns” to convince investors they should keep their money with LNA Associates and roll over their investments with promises he would use the funds to buy more jewelry.

Those purchases, however, were never made, authorities allege.

By January 2020, Altieri had stopped paying back investors and owned them a total of about $200 million, court papers state.

Altieri was arrested Tuesday. He was arraigned in a criminal proceeding via teleconference, court papers indicate, and entered a not guilty plea.

“[Tuesday] was the first leg of an iron-distance race. We are pleased that Mr. Altieri was released and that he will address this case as a free man,” his attorney, Edward Sapone, told National Jeweler via email Wednesday.

“Mr. Altieri’s legal team is committed to seeing him through this to the end, and we will be with him every step of the way. This case is far from over.”

If convicted, Altieri faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment.

TAGS:   Crime
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