BULLETIN: 77-Year-Old Ponzi Enabler And His 40-Year-Old Son Who Helped Confuse Investors In Nevin Shapiro’s $930 Million ‘Grocery’ Ponzi Sentenced To Federal Prison; Roberto And Alejandro Torres Also Hit With $82 Million Restitution Order

BULLETIN: Yesterday a federal judge in Michigan sentenced 75-year-old Ponzi schemer Edward May to 16 years in federal prison for pulling off a $350 million fraud.

Today in New Jersey — in a separate case — a 77-year-old Ponzi enabler and his Ponzi-enabling, 40-year-old son were sentenced to combined prison terms of just shy of eight years for helping make Nevin Shapiro’s $930 million swindle possible.

It could have been worse, but the pair later helped unmask the caper they once enabled.

U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton imposed a 48-month sentence on Roberto Torres, who will not leave prison until he is at least 81. Torres’ son, Alejandro Torres, was imposed a slightly lower sentence: 46 months. Both father and son also were hit with an $82 million restitution order. The elder Torres once resided in Lighthouse Point, Fla., but now lives in New York. His son lives in Boca Raton, Fla.

When the Torreses will begin serving their terms was not immediately clear.

Shapiro, 42, formerly of Miami Beach,  is serving a 20-year-term and is liable with Roberto and Alejandro Torres in the restitution order. Both father and son pleaded guilty to a single count of securities fraud. Shapiro pleaded guilty last year to one count of securities fraud and one count of money laundering.

Roberto Torres was the chief financial officer of  Capitol Investments USA Inc., Shapiro’s phony “grocery” arbitrage business. Alejandro Torres was an accountant at the firm, which hatched a four-year-long scheme beginning in 2005 to siphon money from investors by cooking the books.

Father and son “admitted to creating, or directing others to create, fraudulent documents which falsely touted the profitability of Capitol’s fictitious grocery diversion business,” the office of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey said today. “The Torreses admitted that those documents included: profit and loss figures fraudulently representing that Capitol’s wholesale grocery business was generating tens of millions of dollars in annual sales; personal and business tax returns for Shapiro and Capitol also fraudulently reflecting those sales; and numerous invoices fraudulently reflecting transactions between Capitol and other companies in the wholesale grocery business.”

The Shapiro Ponzi, which was based in South Florida, toppled in January 2009, prosecutors said.

Sydney Jack Williams, 63, of Naples, Fla., faces sentencing in January on charges he was Shapiro’s top recruiter and did not report $12 million in commissions.

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