Attorney Linked To Financial Scams Is Sentenced To Prison

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the sentencing of a disbarred Hudson Valley attorney who scammed business associates out of millions of dollars in an elaborate series of real estate transactions.

Francis A. Zarro,53, was sentenced to seven to 21 years imprisonment by Acting Dutchess County Justice James T. Rooney. On July 8, 2004, Judge Rooney found Zarro guilty of 13 felony counts: one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class B felony; five counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; five counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree, a class C felony; two counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, a class D felony; and one count of Scheme To Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony.

Zarro targeted successful businessmen and affluent individuals to loan him money which he promised to repay. Unknown to his victims was the fact that Zarro had already defaulted on similar obligations and that with each successive year, Zarro amassed millions of dollars in unpaid debts.

Zarro also obtained monies from his victims as alleged investments or advance fees in real estate, which he falsely characterized as "done deals". In fact, the defendant never had the financial ability to consummate any of his deals.

To further entice his victims to believe his sensational investment offers, Zarro would impress them with his use of prestigious office space in Manhattan, retention of high-priced law and accounting firms, and used expensive clothes, cars and drivers, and lavish homes and apartments to support the illusion of wealth and success. His proposals convinced numerous individuals to give him significant sums of money - sometimes in the millions - as loans, investments or fees, for the renovation of a country club, purchase of a Las Vegas casino, an upscale Manhattan condominium and other real estate ventures. Zarro then used that money to support his extravagant lifestyle and launch his next deal.

Some of Zarro's victims include: