Ex-broker admits bilking investors
Updated 9:21 p.m.
ALBANY Former investment broker Mark Casolo is trying to make amends for bilking money from his clients, his attorney says.
The 55-year-old Voorheesville businessman rejected a plea agreement offered by prosecutors that would have reduced the number of counts lodged against him, according to Terrence Kindlon, his defense attorney. Instead, Casolo pleaded guilty Friday to five counts of second-degree grand larceny and seven counts of third-degree grand larceny — all of the felony charges he was facing in Albany County Court.
The plea means Casolo potentially faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced before Judge Peter Lynch on March 15. Kindlon said Casolo’s intention is to show the court he’s trying to be accountable for his actions and make things right with the people who invested money with him.
“I’m hopeful this is going to be a very significant step in the right direction for him,” he said. “He’s working really hard to set things right.”
Casolo, a former employee of the now-defunct McGinn, Smith & Co., acted as an investment broker for multiple clients who believed they were investing in legitimate ventures. In pleading guilty to the indictment, he admitted to stealing in excess of $2.2 million from several individuals between 2006 and 2009.
Prosecutors said Casolo took the clients’ money and used it for personal gain, including cash deposits to personal accounts, credit card bills, travel, entertainment and other personal expenses.
Casolo wasn’t accused of committing the theft while he was working at McGinn, Smith & Co., which was wrought by legal troubles of its own. Timothy McGinn and David Smith, the firm’s principals, were convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion during a federal trial earlier this month; both partners now face up to 15 years in prison when they’re sentenced in June.
Authorities said the scam started while Casolo was employed at Reid and Associates, a Colonie firm that is not accused of any wrongdoing in the case. Prosecutors say he duped clients into investing in various shell corporations and then used the money to pay off other investors, or took it outright for his own personal finances.
“The damage caused by individuals that commit white collar crime is very real and leaves devastating consequences,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a statement. “Mr. Casolo betrayed the trust of his clients and now he will have to answer for his crimes.”
Kindlon said his client has already reached “fairly significant financial settlements” with many of his victims. He said Casolo has turned over several parcels of real estate and is hoping to restore much of the losses incurred by his victims.
“Everybody’s situation will improved as a result of this,” he said.