.

Wantagh Residents Charged in $415M Ponzi Scheme

SEC claims these sales agents falsely promised investors high returns on investments.

Three Wantagh residents are among 14 sales agents charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly misleding investors and illegally selling securities for a Long Island-based investment firm at the center of a $415 million Ponzi scheme.

According to a release issued by the SEC:

The SEC alleges that the sales agents — which include four sets of siblings — falsely promised investor returns as high as 12 to 14 percent in several weeks when they sold investments offered by Agape World Inc. They also misled investors to believe that only 1 percent of their principal was at risk. The Agape securities they peddled were actually non-existent, and investors were merely lured into a Ponzi scheme where earlier investors were paid with new investor funds. The sales agents turned a blind eye to red flags of fraud and sold the investments without hesitation, receiving more than $52 million in commissions and payments out of investor funds. None of these sales agents were registered with the SEC to sell securities, nor were they associated with a registered broker or dealer. Agape also was not registered with the SEC.

According to the SEC’s complaint, more than 5,000 investors nationwide were impacted by the scheme that lasted from 2005 to January 2009, when Agape’s president and organizer of the scheme Nicholas J. Cosmo was arrested. He was later sentenced to 300 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $179 million in restitution.

Among those charged include:

  • Brothers of Wantagh, and Michael D. Keryc of Baldwin, Jason Keryc offered and sold Agape securities to at least 1,617 investors and received at least $16 million in commissions and payments. He also paid sub-brokers, including his brother, at least $7.4 million to sell Agape securities for him. Michael Keryc offered and sold Agape securities to at least 177 investors and received more than $1 million in commissions and payments. (Keryc was previously arrested in a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud based on his conduct as Agape sales agents.)
  • Siblings Martin C. Hartmann III of Massapequa, and Laura Ann Tordy of Wantagh, Hartmann enlisted his sister in his sales effort while he worked as a sub-broker for Jason Keryc. Hartmann and Tordy offered and sold Agape securities to at least 441 investors and received more than $3.5 million in commissions and payments.
  • Ronald R. Roaldsen, Jr. of Wantagh, who worked as a sub-broker for Keryc. Roaldsen offered and sold Agape securities to at least 159 investors and received more than $600,000 in commissions and payments.

(Editor's Note: 8:44 p.m. It was originally reported that the individuals were arrested. In fact, they were not arrested; they have been civilly charged by the SEC. Patch regrets the error.)

K June 13, 2012 at 01:59 PM
What's even worse is that they did this to friends......
Patrick June 13, 2012 at 05:32 PM
What's even worse is that these "friends" from Wantagh took illegal payouts, and refuse to pay the money back. Just as in the Madoff case, anyone who took a payout is required by law to pay back everything they received, be it $5 or say $24,217.00, or maybe $11,100.00. What is even more interesting, is that 2 of these "friends" took the majority of their payout on the same day, 11/12/08. Also, these 2 "friends" were paid on that day with consecutive checks from Agape. All of the money received by these 2 "friends" was within 90 days of the filing date of the Agape bankruptcy. Oh, and by the way, these 2 "friends" happen to be brothers. But that must be just coincidence, right? A victim is someone who unwittingly is marked and taken advantage of. It is my opinion that these "friends" knew what was going to happen, and took advantage of that knowledge to try to recoup some of their investment, and now refuse to pay that money back by calling themselves victims. Seems to me they are very opportunistic "victims".
Mitch June 14, 2012 at 04:14 PM
The real sad part is that these people could have made a good living by running their business legitimately, ethically. Money does crazy things to people- Greed just makes you want more and more. It's a terrible story all the way around. Cosmo will have 25 years in the slammer to think about all the people he hurt and while he's in there he can ask himself the question: Does crime really pay ?
Ursula June 27, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Just a little information for all of you….while some or all of you are worrying about the financial future of your families…these sub-brokers especially Tordy has no regard for anything she has done. She continues to live a big *** lifestyle…she is watching kids out of her home which I’m sure is cash…so the authorities are going to have to dig really deep if they want recover any monies from her. I guess she can’t return to her former careers as a court reporter, nurse or mortgage broker…wow she’s really intelligent…NOT. She renovated her home extensively, cars, jewelry, vacations, you name it with other peoples money. Refer to the SEC complaint…she made approximately $1 million in two years…she sent her husband to the Superbowl right after her boss was arrested…and that *** does not make anywhere near $500,000 a year…With all that she has no remorse whatsoever. An individual with that kind of evil is born that way and she may have fooled a lot of people, but one day as they say, she will get hers and it can’t come soon enough.The whole family beginning with the big Hartmann = horrible horrible people.
Leche November 22, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Is that the same Ron Roaldsen who is a teacher in the East Williston district? If so, does anyone know if he's been suspended or fired?

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