Multimillion Coin-Fraud Verdict Needs Revisiting

     (CN) – Two rare-coin dealers facing lengthy prison terms for conspiracy won relief from the Second Circuit on orders to pay $41 million in restitution and forfeiture.
     Michael Romano owned three rare-coin companies from 1990 to 2008, and William Kearney was a salesman and sales manager at all three companies – Wall Street Rare Coins, Atlantic Coin Galleries, and Northeast Gold and Silver.
     Federal prosecutors eventually took the men to trial in Brooklyn, N.Y., on charges that they misrepresented the value of the coins they sold over the phone, as well as the profitability of coin sets in general.
     Romano and Kearney also misrepresented how much help they could offer customers trying to resell any coins they bought, according to the government’s case.
     The men were convicted on money-laundering and mail and wire fraud conspiracy charges after a trial in which former salesmen testified about the false claims Romano and Kearney instructed them to make in their telephone sales pitches.
     “The salesmen represented that they could offer such bargains because the company was operating as a wholesaler, which it was not; or because they were liquidating another dealer’s inventory, which they were not, or because they had just returned from a coin show, though the salesmen never actually attended coin shows,” according to a ruling from the Second Circuit affirming the conviction Monday.
     Writing for a three-person panel in Manhattan, Judge Amalya Kearse noted how the salesmen invoked Lambchop puppeteer Shari Lewis in joking about how the ever-expanding “sets” they duped customers into buying would never be completed.
     “The salesmen would sing a little ditty that went, ‘This is the set that never ends, yes, it goes on and on, my friends,” Kearse wrote.
     One salesman testified that Kearney “repeatedly worried aloud” about undercover police officers joining the sales staff.
     Romano renamed and relocated his company twice in the same area, “for no apparent reason other than to conceal its business practices,” the ruling states.
     Though the court affirmed the lengthy sentences for Romano and Kearney, 20 years and 13 years, respectively, it vacated orders for the men to pay $9 million in restitution and $32 million in forfeiture.
     Finding that the trial judge merely adopted a magistrate’s recommendations on these amounts, Kearse called on him to provide his own review on remand.

%d bloggers like this: