Cosmo Can’t Take No Mo’: Fraudster Thinks He Deserves a Break

Cosmo Can’t Take No Mo’: Fraudster Thinks He Deserves a Break

Two-time flim flam artist Nicholas Cosmo wants less jail time for himself.  His ruined victims want more.

Cosmo fraud

Nicholas Cosmo fraud

The Ponzi scammer who ripped off investors both locally in New York and around the world is appealing his 25-year prison sentence but so far has not contested the $179 million he owes in restitution to the mostly middle-income people whose money he stole.  Cosmo’s multinational scheme involved squads of free-wheeling brokers, some ex-cons with pasts of heroin smuggling, grand larceny, and second-degree robbery who courted and then burned thousands of investors.

“Too lenient” is what attorney Frank Accocela of Purchase, New York called Cosmo’s sentence.  Accocela had thousands of his bucks disappear into the great pyramid of Cosmo otherwise known as the Agape World investment company.  “He should spend a lot more time in prison,” Accocela said.

Cosmo, 40, showed no emotion in court as the shattered lives and mangled futures caused by his malevolent handiwork was described by his victims.  “This is what a destroyed man looks like! …He destroyed me!” said Frank Caserta, whose loss included his father’s savings and his daughter’s college fund.  Another, Dennis Hand, said that because of the white-collar mugging he’d received from Cosmo, he would never be able to retire or to provide for his daughters’ weddings.  “I foolishly took the money out,” he said of his savings, “and put it with Cosmo… Needless to say, it’s all gone.”  Frank Ingrao, a 32-year-old police officer and Iraq war vet, lost all the money he’d ever saved, $63,000.  Speaking to the court in 2009 he said “I wanted to start my life” but instead ended up penniless.

Court records show that Cosmo threw his investors money into jewelry, cash presents for this wife, limousine cruises and, ironically, restitution for his last convicted Ponzi con job.

Agape World — in a cruel twist, “agape” means “love” in biblical Greek — was started back in 2000 soon after Cosmo shed his prison garb when he finished 21 months in Allenwood Federal Correctional Facility for the first time he ripped off investors, though that time he only dabbled with $177,000 of his victim’s money.

The outpatient gambling addiction therapy that Cosmo was forced to undergo as a condition of his release obviously did not cure his cosmos-sized habit, as he would eventually go on to gamble away millions of his clients’ financial nest eggs on internet-based futures trading and other high-stakes equity derivative investment schemes.  “Sometimes it’s good to take risks” was how Cosmo replied to questions of million-dollar one-day losses, according to a former employee.

Apparently in an advanced state of denial, Cosmo blamed a bad business plan when his lavish spending and compulsive derivative habit made the house of cards come crashing down.  “It was never my intention at the beginning to defraud them,” Cosmo read to the court. “But my business plan had no possible chance to succeed.”

Cosmo’s grand shell games, wantonly spendthrift ways, and negligent risk-taking proved big and bad enough that even Judge Denis Hurley seemed shocked as he sentenced the high-living fraudster.  “The scale of the offenses is breathtaking,” the judge intoned during the penalty phase of the proceeding against Cosmo, calling him “arrogant” and “reckless”.

The chastened investors have received some restitution for their lost funds, generally pennies on the dollar, from liquidation auctions and other sales of Agape World’s holdings which included widespread property assets, luxurious houses and even Cosmo’s swanky Mercedes Benz, which was sold for $47,000 in 2009.

A further $850,000 more was recovered in a sale of 25 acres of land near New Orleans in Southern Louisiana.  Cosmo’s sports center in Hauppauge, New York was auctioned off for $3.4 million, but none of it made much of a dent in the $179 million he owes investors.

A civil court proceeding saw a lien placed against the $2.5 million two-acre mansion property in the exclusive beach resort area of Montauk, New York belonging to Jason Keryc, an Agape World broker who was not charged in the Agape fraud case.

Norma Mendoza, a 24-year-old college student from Queens, saw her graduate school plans disappear with the $20,000 she gave Agape to invest for her.  After the company’s collapse and the theft, “I don’t know what the future holds,” she said.

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