A Syosset man, out on bail in a $26 million Ponzi scheme, has been sent back to jail by a federal judge in Central Islip, after prosecutors say that while on home detention he duped a California businessman out of $25,000.
Eric Aronson, 43, claimed he could get favorable publicity on the popular "Dr. Oz" television show for health food bars manufactured by the man's company, according to prosecutors.
Aronson was ordered back to jail on Monday by U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt after a three-day hearing in which a "Dr. Oz" employee testified that Aronson had no influence with the show and denied Aronson's claim that he knew her, according to officials.
Gregory Manos, the head of Active Health Food in Riverside, Calif., testified previously he had paid $25,000 to Aronson in order to get publicity for his company's Active X Energy bars on "Dr. Oz" and other TV shows, and well as orders for the bars from national retail stores.
Aronson's attorney, Randy Zelin, of Garden City, said Thursday that he had argued that Manos and the government were criminalizing an ordinary business dispute.
Eastern District prosecutor William Campos declined to comment.
But in ordering Aronson to be jailed pending trial on the alleged $26 million Ponzi scheme, Spatt said, "The court finds that the government has established by a preponderance of the evidence that there was probable cause to believe that the defendant, Eric Aronson, committed a crime while on release: namely, wire fraud and money laundering."
Aronson was indicted in April, accused of being involved in a scheme in which investors were promised up to 400 percent interest in a business that supposedly imported ecologically friendly porous paving stones from Australia, according to court records.
The paving stone and "Dr. Oz" cases are not Aronson's first brushes with federal law enforcement, according to court records
In 2000, Aronson was sentenced to 40 months in prison after being convicted of duping investors in a multimillion-dollar securities fraud, according to court records.