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Monday, April 18, 2011

Hidden Plainfield: April 17 Ponzi scheme property ID

'House of Ponzi' is at 1220 Watchung Avenue.

Most everybody knew yesterday's Hidden Plainfield was on Watchung Avenue, 1220 to be exact.

The Ponzi scheme involved an unregistered securities firm -- Serafino Holdings LLC -- whose owner, Anthony Lucchetto Jr. lived at the Plainfield address and was accused by the State of selling unregistered securities invested in construction loans.

Accused of a $15M fraud in 2009 (see AG's complaint here; Bloomberg News here), the case was finally settled recently (reported in the Ledger Wednesday, see here). Lucchetto, who no longer appears to live at the property, agreed to make $7.2 million in restitution to those who were scammed and to pay a $1 million civil penalty to the state.

Both Bloomberg News and the Huffington Post (see here) linked Lucchetto to a much larger, $400 million Ponzi scheme run by Nicholas Cosmo and centered in Long Island.

Lucchetto's defense lawyer, William Hood III, said at the time that
Lucchetto was a victim of Cosmo's scam. The settlement suggest he was unable to prove that to the State's satisfaction.

Proceeds of the scam were evidently not spent on the property.
While Ponzi scamsters are often reported to live the high life -- including swanky properties -- on their ill-gotten gains, no such claim has been made against Lucchetto. As can be seen from the photo above, it hardly appears he invested his money in the Watchung Avenue property, and the construction permit stickers below dated 2008 show no evidence of work having been done. In fact, the house is vacant and winterized, though it is not clear whether it is a bank foreclosure.

Two construction permit stickers from 2008
show no evidence of work having been done.
Where shall we go next week?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rob said...

Talk about brain freeze...once I saw the address I knew exactly which house it is. Drive by it weekly ! Good choice, nice back story.

Anonymous said...

This house had a sheet of plywood as it's sidewalk out front (no sidewalk existed for a few years.) Only recently when the street was repaved and curbs replaced did the city use remnant blue stone to put in a sidewalk. Wish I could get bluestone sidewalk for free! Looks good, and an improvement from plywood.