Life Imitates Art: Actor With Role In Sopranos Sentenced In Stock Scam

In a case of life imitating art, an actor who had a walk on role this season in the hit HBO series The Sopranos has been sentenced to two to six years in prison for selling worthless stock to senior citizens.

Thomas Bifalco, Jr. 26, of 19 Bay 14th Street, Brooklyn was sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court for a stock scam that cost some 30 elderly victims $300,000.

"Bifalco may have played a tough guy on television, but in reality, he’s nothing but a crook and a bully who stole money from senior citizens," said Attorney General Spitzer.

Bifalco was running a boiler room operation out of an office at 80 Wall Street when he was shut down by the Attorney General’s office in March of 1999. Last December, he pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony and violating General Business Law, a Class E felony.

Bifalco used high pressure sales tactics, including cursing and harassing, to sell elderly victims worthless stock in a company, Falcon Marine, Inc. One victim, 69 year old Kurt Zechel, lost $5,000. He appeared in court today to ask that Bifalco receive a stiff sentence. Others, including a 92 year old man who lost $65,000, were unable to attend the sentencing because of poor health.

Spitzer issued this warning to consumers "If someone you don’t know calls you with a hot stock tip promising huge returns, the best thing to do is hang up the phone. The only people who get rich through get rich schemes are the scam artists."

The case has been handled by Assistant Attorney Generals John Panagopoulos and Michael Jones of the Investor Protection Bureau and Zach Weiss of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.