At his arraignment this week, Steven Palladino, 55, pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal counts of larceny over $250, falsifying corporate books, and loan sharking, as well as one count of uttering. He and his wife Lori, 52, are accused of running a Massachusetts Ponzi scam. The victims of their alleged financial fraud are reportedly business associates and friends. Lori’s arraignment is scheduled for April.
Per the authorities, the couple used their firm, Viking Financial Group Inc. to pay investors interest and support their lavish lifestyle. Palladino allegedly told potential investors that the supposed private lending company had $25 million in assets and had never defaulted on a single loan. A closer look at Viking’s books, however, showed close to $2 million in bogus loans and nearly $756,000 in real loans. Also, loans made by the company were often purportedly done at such a high interest rate that the government believes these transactions were illegal.
While Palladino’s defense team claim that none of his clients investors were “out a penny” with everyone having “been paid,” the Suffolk County Prosecutor Benjamin Goldberger said he feared that investors’ losses could be in the millions of dollars. The government claims that between September 2009 and the end of 2012, Viking made $1.6 million in loans while taking in $4.6 million in new investments. Out of the money borrowed, at least $600,000 were allegedly loans made to the couple. (Also, although Palladino did repay one elderly senior, his 94-year-old aunt, whom he previously defrauded of real estate, the prosecution contends that the repayment of $350,000 came from the Ponzi scam.)
W. Roxbury couple charged with multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, Boston.com, March 18, 2013
Ponzi Schemes, SEC
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Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing Must Pay $20.5M Arbitration Award in Bayou Ponzi Scam, Upholds 2nd Circuit, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 14, 2012