‘SURF, HYIP HELPERS BEWARE: Woman Who Let Richard Piccoli Pull Off Ponzi Scheme Hit With $25 Million Restitution Order; Kathleen Fuoco Pleads Guilty To ‘Misprision Of Felony,’ Faces Prison Time, Fine

An elderly Ponzi schemer who fleeced Catholic priests, parishioners and senior citizens in a long-running scam in Buffalo was aided by a comparatively youthful assistant who was ordered to make the victims whole, federal prosecutors said today.

Kathleen Fuoco, 60, of West Seneca, N.Y., pleaded guilty today to misprision of a felony and willful failure to file tax returns while she was helping Richard Piccoli, 83, pull off the scheme.

Fuoco was hit with a $25 million restitution order — the total of victims’ losses — and also faces a maximum penalty of four years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. She is cooperating with prosecutors to identify victims and losses, authorities said.

“Financial fraud is an important priority in my office and the public should know that if you attempt to defraud any hard working citizen or turn a blind eye while someone else is committing fraud, you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” said U. S. Attorney William J. Hochul of the Western District of New York.

Known as “Kitty,” Fuoco was “the only employee in the offices of Gen See Capital,” Piccoli’s business, prosecutors said.

“In her plea, Fuoco admitted that she came to realize that the business was a scam, but still kept working there and failed to notify authorities about the criminal nature of the business,” prosecutors said.

Misprision of a felony is a crime the government can use to prosecute underlings who engage in willful blindness and participate in an enterprise even when they know it is a fraud.

As the Fuoco case demonstrates, the penalties can be steep. At age 60, she has been held responsible for making the victims of the fraud whole — and even may serve time in jail.

Serial promoters and staff members of autosurf Ponzi schemes and HYIP frauds who turn a blind eye potentially are at risk of being charged with misprision of a felony. So are forum operators and shills who flog such programs.

The Piccoli scheme operated for decades. He was sentenced in October 2009 to 20 years in prison — effectively a life sentence, given his age.

Here is how “misprision of felony” reads under Section 4 of the U.S. Code:

“Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

In November, misprision of felony was used in Georgia against Saundra McKinney Pyles, who was accused of concealing a Ponzi scheme operated by her friend, Gary Sheldon Hutcheson. Hutcheson pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering.

In essence, Pyles was accused of choosing not to report Hutcheson, even though she knew he was operating an investment scheme and committing mail fraud.

Pyles was sentenced to 14 months in prison, and made equally responsible with Hutcheson to pay $1.6 million in restitution to victims. Hutcheson was sentenced to five years in prison.

Fuoco is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 22 by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skrenty.

The Piccoli case featured elements similar to the AdSurfDaily Ponzi case: a senior citizen as the operator, appeals to religion, the sale of unregistered securities, commingling of funds, seized assets and advertising materials that promised a payout.

After the U.S. Secret Service raided ASD in August 2008, some participants loyal to ASD President Andy Bowdoin started an autosurf known as AdViewGlobal (AVG). Bowdoin was said to have been a silent partner in AVG and to have contributed start-up capital.

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One Response to “‘SURF, HYIP HELPERS BEWARE: Woman Who Let Richard Piccoli Pull Off Ponzi Scheme Hit With $25 Million Restitution Order; Kathleen Fuoco Pleads Guilty To ‘Misprision Of Felony,’ Faces Prison Time, Fine”

  1. Someone make sure GemQueen see this!