Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bronx man indicted in $4.6 million dollar Ponzi scheme

Robert "Bob" Van Zandt was indicted Monday for running a $4.6 million Ponzi scheme in the Bronx.
Eddie Marrero has had a tough few years. He lost half his 401K in the 2008 stock market crash,
his job at Stella D'oro when the bakery closed and then the rest of his 401K to Bronx fraudster Robert "Bob" Van Zandt.
Van Zandt, owner of The Van Zandt Agency, a Westchester Square tax preparation firm, was indicted Monday on fraud, money laundering and grand larceny charges for running a $4.6 million Ponzi scheme that swindled dozens of innocent local investors.
His son and business partner, Robert Van Zandt Jr. - an ex-con with ties to former Mafia boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano - was found floating in his Yonkers swimming pool last fall with a bullet in his head, soon after state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began to investigate the company.
His death was ruled a suicide and his father, 68, now faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years. Van Zandt Sr. is blaming the scam on his son but Marrero believes the father was in on it.
"He destroyed lives," said Marrero, 52. "He should get life in prison without parole and rot in hell."
Marrero became a Van Zandt tax prep customer in 2002 when a co-worker recommended the firm. In 2008, the pal suggested he invest with the agency. Marrero said it sounded like a swell deal.
"I never had a problem with my taxes there," he said. "I spoke to [Van Zandt Sr.] and he laid it out for me. He said he had 200 funds all over the world. He said I could make half a million in 10 years."
Marrero handed over $37,000 and was told he would start to earn interest after two years. But the investment never paid off and now the money is gone. The loss forced Marrero to find a new job rather than retire.
"That was pretty much my life savings," he said sadly. "Now I have to start all over again."
Van Zandt Sr. began to take investments from tax prep clients
in 2007, prosecutors said.
He guaranteed high rates of return but instead used the cash to pay previous investors and personal expenses, they said. He stole more than $4.6 million from February 2008 to January 2011.
Victims who invested up to $900,000 were bankrupted and some now rely on welfare, Schneiderman said.
"The perpetrator…will be brought to justice,” he vowed.
Van Zandt Sr.'s lawyer said he "at all times acted in an honest fashion and with integrity."
"We believe the evidence will show he was taken advantage of by others ...close to him, including his son," said Michael Bachner.
Van Zandt Jr. complained to Basciano about mob associate Randolph Pizzolo before Basciano had Pizzolo murdered and asked Basciano for help with a prison beef, according to testimony during Basciano's recent trial.
Van Zandt Sr. is being held on $500,000 bail.


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