The former president of the Dix Hills Soccer Club used his position to solicit other members and their friends and families to invest in a venture that turned out to be a $5 million Ponzi scheme, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.
The indictment alleges that Robert Rocco, 48, of 3 Mott Place, Dix Hills, also diverted $66,915 in soccer club funds to his company in 2010, leaving the club broke, according to Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, who announced the charges.
Rocco persuaded a fellow club member, identified only as John Doe No. 1, to make two donations totaling $45,000 to the club to keep it operating, the indictment says.
The current president of the club, Martin Targett, declined to comment Tuesday.
Rocco entered a plea of not guilty in federal court in Central Islip and was released on $500,000 secured bond, a spokesman for Lynch said. Rocco's attorney, Randi Chavis, declined to comment, and a telephone message left at the Rocco home was not returned.
The indictment alleges that Rocco promised a profit of up to 18 percent for investing in a venture that would provide loans to finance wholesale cigarette purchases on behalf of a Shinnecock Nation tobacco shop, and to provide credit-card services for cigarette purchasers. Shinnecock Nation was not involved in the scheme, Lynch's spokesman said.
Investors had poured about $5 million into Rocco's scheme, but he never invested the money and used it to partially pay off earlier investors, Lynch said.
"Rocco employed fraud and deceit to victimize friends and neighbors and even used his local soccer club to further his schemes," Lynch said in a news release.
She said that between 2006 and 2013 more than two dozen individuals invested in Rocco's firm, Limestone Capital Services, located in Melville.
The total amount invested was $5 million, and individuals invested amounts from $25,000 to $1.2 million.