"I know I'm going to jail, and I deserve it,'' said Piccoli, whose scheme lasted nearly 30 years. "I let so many people down.''
Richard Piccoli was sentenced on October 21, 2009 to 20 years in prison for a Ponzi scheme that targeted the Catholic community and senior citizens. His elicit activities netted more than 20 million dollars from hundreds of gullible Catholics.
Piccoli’s company, Gen-See Capital Corp., regularly advertised in the Western New York Catholic, as well as other Catholic newspapers and parish bulletins, guaranteeing investors at least a 7.1 percent return on investments with his company. As if that weren't absurd enough, he even went so far as to guarantee a ludicrous 12% interest rate on investments to select, perhaps senile, clients. He always gave potential investors a list of seven priests they could call for references ... because priests can be trusted.
Piccoli also used his membership in the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization, together with his assocaitions with priests and his extensive advertising in Catholic publications across the country to bilk more than $16 million from investors in the last two years alone.
He was eventually busted after a team of investigators from the U. S. Postal Service and the IRS went through his bank accounts and found that while he had taken in more than $16 million in the past two years, there was nothing that showed he made a single investment for his clients. He was arrested soon thereafter.
U.S. District Judge William Skretny rejected a defense request for a sentence that would give Piccoli hope that he would not die in prison, saying he ran a "shameful, disgraceful and rather ruthless Ponzi scheme''that bilked clients recruited largely through ads in Catholic newspapers, using clergy-member investors as references.
He is expected to die in jail.
Authorities estimate Piccoli and his Gen-See Capital Corp. took in $31 million in investments between 2002 and 2009. Only $7 million was left to reimburse 500 victims.
"You operated without a conscience. You are a wolf in sheep's clothing,'' said the (obviously Catholic) judge.
The lesson here is that justice is swift if someone steals $31 million dollars under the guise of religion ... Anyone see the irony?