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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

There may be a thief among us.

The Staten Island residential real estate boom has been spotlighted recently on our blog, but if the charges against a local man are proven to be true, it will have some residents saying “There goes the neighborhood!”.

A Staten Island man has been “arrested and charged with securities fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud” in connection with an alleged real estate scam that targeted primarily the elderly.

Elder law encompasses a wide range of matters affecting our senior citizens including estate planning, healthcare and long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, veteran’s benefits, and more.

In addition to traditional estate planning documents, skilled elder law attorneys can also help prevent physical, emotional, and financial elder abuse by establishing conservatorships and guardianships for elders who are vulnerable and/or lack the capacity to manage their own financial and/or medical affairs.

Reportedly, the Staten Island man “set up three fake real estate companies to solicit money from elderly investors”. Over a 14-year period, nearly $2 million was invested based on a promise that the funds would be used to “purchase, renovate, rent and resell properties in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the New York area”. Investors were reportedly promised “between a 6 and 60% profit” when they handed over their previously secure retirements and nest eggs to the apparent scam.

Officials reported that in one case, one of the three companies received $978,000 from investors and with the exception of spending $12,000 to buy a property, the remainder was kept by the accused and “his associates” for personal use. The accused allegedly “used the money for personal expenses, including credit card payments, pet supplies, alcohol, restaurants and his child’s school tuition”. Reportedly, the investors– most of them elderly– have lost virtually all of their investment money.

If you are interested in estate planning or believe you or a loved one may be a victim of elder abuse, the Staten Island Law Firm of Merlino & Gonzalez can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.