THE BERNEY $10 M PONZI
In 2011, mother and son Berney were charged in a $10M Ponzi Scheme. The news coverage was significant at the time with D.A. Zugibe putting out feelers for anyone who might have done business with the Berneys to contact the District Attorney’s Office at 845-638-5013. And that’s where it appears to end. Anyone with information on the two Berneys, please feel free to send along an email.
We are thinking that perhaps the Ponzi Scheme business might be a consideration for anyone looking for a lucrative (albeit illegal) gig that goes nowhere in the end. You steal the money, get charged and then disappear….
Monsey Mother And Son Accused In $10 Million Ponzi Scheme
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An 80-year-old Monsey woman and her son have been charged with grand larceny after prosecutors said they scammed 75 people of $10 million in a Ponzi scheme.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe says Jeanette and Elliot Berney convinced their victims — mostly neighbors and relatives — to invest in their company, NHI Metals Ltd.
Zugibe said the duo told customers their money would be invested in European “bank notes” or “metal securities.”
Authorities believe the Berneys kept most of the money, paying out only monthly interest payments to some investors.
Prosecutors believe the alleged scheme was launched in 2006 and continued up until this week.
Jeanette Berney has been charged with second-degree larceny. Elliot Berney was also been charged with second-degree larceny. Bail was set at $1 million. He is due back in court on March 15.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Monsey mother, 80, and son accused in $10M Ponzi scheme
An 80-year-old Monsey woman and her son face a grand larceny charge, accused of stealing $10 million through a Ponzi scheme.
Jeanette Berney of 25 Highview Road and Elliot Berney, 52, of 13 Langeries Drive, both of Monsey, are believed to have stolen the money from at least 75 victims, Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said.
Officials expect to identify additional victims as the criminal investigation continues.
The mother and son are suspected of convincing customers — mainly neighbors, relatives and acquaintances made through those connections — to invest large sums of money into their company, NHI Metals Ltd., authorities said.
The Berneys told customers that the money would be invested in European “bank notes” or “metal securities,” Zugibe said.
Authorities believe no such investments were made and that the Berneys simply kept most of the money, paying out only small monthly interest payments to certain investors to encourage additional investing.
According to the state Department of State, Jeanette Berney was chief executive officer of NHI Metals Ltd. when it was begun in 1997. The company operated out of her Highview Road home until it was dissolved in 2003.
Zugibe said the investment scheme might have begun as early as 2006, when the pair continued to solicit investors despite their company’s inactive status with the state.
The thefts are alleged to have continued up until Tuesday, when agents with the Rockland County Special Investigations Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested the Berneys.
Jeanette Berney was charged with second-degree grand larceny, Zugibe said. Ramapo Town Justice Rhoda F. Schoenberger set bail at $500,000, but Jeanette Berney was released Tuesday after posting the $50,000 cash alternative and surrendering her passport.
Elliot Berney also was charged with second-degree grand larceny, Zugibe said, and was taken to the county jail Tuesday night. Schoenberger set bail at $1 million.
Officers at the county jail said Wednesday that Elliot Berney was released Tuesday night. Whether he posted bond or a cash alternative was unclear. Zugibe said Elliot Berney had also surrendered his passport. Elliot Berney is due in Town Court on March 15.
Zugibe said investigation of the alleged Ponzi scheme began in recent weeks after a complaint was filed with authorities.
Investigators were quickly able to identify the 75 known victims, several of whom lost their life savings by investing with the Berneys, Zugibe said.
As the investigation continues, authorities are seeking to identify others who have invested with the Berneys.
“It’s our belief that there are a number of additional victims that we have yet to identify,” Zugibe said. “What’s really important here is for anybody else who has been victimized to come forward.”
Rockland’s Chief Public Defender James Licata, who Zugibe said has been hired privately to represent Jeanette Berney, did not immediately return a telephone call Wednesday evening.
Elliot Berney’s attorney, Avraham Moskowitz of the Manhattan-based law firm Moskowitz and Book, had no comment about the charge against his client.
Jeanette Berney’s home, an older house on Highview Road, was dark late Wednesday afternoon. No one answered her door.
Speaking through the front door of Elliot Berney’s Langeries Drive home Wednesday, an unidentified woman said no one was home to comment on the case before denying that Elliot Berney lived in the residence.
She then reiterated that no one was home to comment on the charges before walking away.
A neighbor living across the street from Elliot Berney’s home did not want to be identified, but said she had known the Berneys to be good and honest people.
If convicted of the second-degree larceny charges, the mother and son could face up to 15 years each in state prison.
Zugibe urged anyone who might have done business with the Berneys to contact the District Attorney’s Office at 845-638-5013.