Bay Ridge businessman indicted on 63 counts of fraud, grand larceny

September 11, 2015 Meaghan McGoldrick
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A Bay Ridge businessman has been charged with grand larceny as a hate crime, and 62 other counts, after allegedly scamming senior citizens out of more than $2.5 million.

The defendant – Staten Island resident Paul Simoneschi, 69 – owned and operated Simmons Planning Group & Agency Inc., located at 8403 Seventh Avenue, from 2009 to 2014, where he sold insurance policies and annuities to his clients, , according to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

According to the indictment, released on Wednesday, September 9, Simoneschi is said to have developed long-term relationships with some of his clients – many of them senior citizens, as well as Italian immigrants whom he spoke to in Italian – and then stole from them by either recommending that they surrender their insurance policies and invest the money with him, or simply surrendering their insurance policies without their permission or knowledge, forging names and subsequently depositing the checks into accounts that he controlled.

“This defendant allegedly took advantage of some of society’s most vulnerable victims, whom he targeted because of their age,” said Thompson, promising to prosecute Simoneschi to the fullest extent of the law. “He held himself out as a savvy investor and trusted advisor, when in fact he was allegedly nothing more than a crook. These victims lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of their life savings at a time when they need it most.”

According to the indictment, Thompson said, the defendant tried to cover up his tracks by providing false documents to a number of his victims, including copies of “new” policies opened on their behalf. Victims allege that, at times, the Bay Ridge businessman gave them checks purported to be distributions from their policies or accounts, when really the paperwork was from accounts that he controlled.

“As alleged, this individual violated the trust of his clients, pocketed millions of dollars, and denied his victims their savings,” said New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton. “I would like to thank Detective Mark Lombardo of the 68th Precinct squad and the investigators of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for exposing this individual and holding him responsible for his actions.”

Simoneschi was arraigned on a 63-count indictment in which he is charged with two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud, one count of first-degree money laundering, and 13 counts of second-degree grand larceny as a hate crime, among others.

He faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted.


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