Mill Basin man sentenced for stealing $440,000 from relatives, lifelong friends

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Joseph Casertano of Mill Basin was sentenced to 3 to 6 years imprisonment for stealing $440,000 from 22 people.
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

A judge sentenced a Mill Basin shyster to up to six years in prison for scamming more than $440,000 from at least 22 people, including his own family members, lifelong friends, and neighbors. 

“This defendant admittedly cheated many people, including friends and family, out of thousands of dollars in savings, betraying their trust,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. 

Joseph Casertano, 57, claimed to operate an investment company, Shelter Island Leverage, and convinced his hapless “clients” to invest in bogus public offerings, accepting installments that started at $12,500, according to the district attorney’s office. 

The southern Brooklyn swindler’s first victim was a man he befriended at a local fitness center, who would go on to recommend Casertano to friends and family after the con man reported high returns on his first-round of investments. 

Throughout the scam, which lasted from Oct. 1, 2011 to July 31, 2017, Casertano regularly fabricated fake account numbers and statements showing phantom stock trades and made-up account balances to encourage further investments.

But when his victims requested to actually withdraw their earnings, the scammer claimed that security regulations prevented them from dipping into the funds, although he did occasionally fork over modest sums of cash. 

In the end, however, Casertano didn’t make a single investment, or open any accounts, instead depositing investment checks into his personal accounts and spending the money on vacations, fine dining, personal credit card payments and cash withdrawals amounting to more than $200,000, prosecutors said.

Casertano pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny on Sept. 25, 2019 and Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced him to three to six years imprisonment on Wednesday.