According to the Albany County District Attorney, Mark Casolo, 57, stole more than $2.2 million from 16 victims by means of fraudulent and unauthorized transactions from the victims' financial accounts between 2006 and 2009. In addition to prison time, he must now pay restitution.
Casolo, a former employee with McGinn, Smith & Co., acted as an investment broker for multiple clients who believed were investing in legitimate ventures. It is alleged that instead, Casolo used the money for personal gain, including cash deposits to personal accounts, credit card bills, travel, entertainment, and other personal expenses.
Victims of the so called Ponzi scheme told Casolo how much pain and financial turmoil he has caused them. Casolo told his victims in court that he did not intend to knowingly harm anyone.
Sandra McGowan of East Greenbush says Casolo robbed her of her piece of mind and financial security. She told him in court that she is now in debt, has had to return to work, and take out thousands in loans.
Her father also lost money he invested with Casolo who used money he gained from clients to pay bills, his children's schooling and vacations.
While McGowan and other victims lost their life savings, Casolo was spending their money on bettering his. He bought several properties and paid his own mortgage after victims say he encouraged them to take out mortgages on their homes. McGowan spoke with NEWS10 about what she had envisioned for her golden years.
"Round out my pension. Spoil my granddaughter and to travel. All of the things that you believe you can do once you've retired from 32 years of teaching," Sandra McGowan.
After victims told Casolo face to face how they believe he is not remorseful and has destroyed their lives, he addressed them and said it was a perfect storm that led to the loss of their investments.
"Failing banks, record foreclosures, over optimistic forecasting by myself, unavailability of additional financing," said Casolo.
Casolo who was close friends with many of the victims went on to describe to them how he's suffered.
"I hope you will see that we have suffered emotionally and financially and that in the end I worked very hard and made sacrifices to see that our business plan and objectives were achieved," said Casolo.
Casolo was ordered to pay restitution but the Albany County District Attorney's Office says its investigation has revealed that he has no money or viable assets to be able to do that at all.
Casolo will be eligible for parole after 5 years.
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