A former broker in New York has pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme for almost two decades, according to local reporting.
From January 2000 to March 2018, Steve Pagartanis of East Setauket, N.Y., solicited elderly people to invest in several real estate ventures, promising them their principal would be safe, plus 4.5% to 8% annual returns, Patch.com writes, citing the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York’s office. Pagartanis convinced victims to write checks to an entity he controlled, laundered the funds and then used them on payments to previous victims and on luxury items for himself, according to the local news website.
He was able to attract $13 million with the scheme, with the victims eventually losing $9 million, Patch.com writes. Pagartanis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison, according to the website.
Finra barred Pagartanis in April year after he refused to show up for testimony for the industry self-regulator’s investigation of allegations that he misappropriated client funds and made fraudulent misrepresentation, according to Pagartanis’s BrokerCheck record.
Pagartanis agreed to the bar without admitting or denying Finra’s findings, the regulator says. The SEC filed a civil case against Pagartanis but it was stayed pending the criminal case’s resolution, Patch.com writes.
The former broker worked at 12 firms during his 28 years as a registered broker, including three separate stints at Cadaret, Grant that lasted from two to five years each, according to his record.
He also has 16 disclosures, beginning with a $210,723 tax lien from 2008 for the years 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, according to BrokerCheck.