Orange County Man Sentenced In Real Estate Scheme

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that an Orange County resident has been sentenced to one to three years in state prison for his role in a fraudulent scheme involving the financing of speculative residential real estate in Sullivan and Orange counties.

Frank P. Ciano, 34, of Sparrow Bush was sentenced today by Orange County Court Judge Stewart A. Rosenwasser as the result of his guilty plea to charges of: Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class "D" felony; Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class "E" felony; and Fraud in the Sale of Securities, also a class "E" felony.

Ciano, a former police officer with the village of Ellenville, stole approximately $145,000 from investors as part of the scheme. Using a number of real estate financing businesses that he formed, Ciano purchased low-cost, run-down residential properties. He advised investors that he intended to fix up the properties and then sell them at a profit. To solicit investors, Ciano gave promissory notes carrying a high rate of return. At the time of his plea, Ciano admitted that he pocketed the money he received from several investors and never intended to repay that money or the interest promised in the promissory notes he issued. Instead, Ciano used that money for other purposes, including substantial personal expenditures for himself and his wife.

The initial complaint, filed by the City of Port Jervis Police Department, alleged that Ciano defrauded a single investor of $100,000. The investigation determined that there were additional victims and the court ordered that Ciano pay restitution to two victims totaling $145,000.

TMZ Enterprises, Inc., a corporation owned by Ciano operating in Orange and Sullivan counties, also entered a plea of guilty to Fraud in the Sale of Securities, a class "E" felony and was ordered by the Court to pay a fine of $1000.

The Attorney General's Office began an inquiry into Ciano's practices in soliciting investments pursuant to its powers under New York State's securities fraud statute, the Martin Act. The Attorney General was aided in the investigation by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the City of Port Jervis Police Department, the Sullivan County District Attorney's Office, and the New York State Police.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Christopher P. Borek, under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Deputy Bureau Chief William Comiskey and Bureau Chief Janet Cohn. The matter was referred to the Attorney General by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.


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