A judge has awarded $4.1 million, plus attorneys' fees, to eight victims of convicted Long Island swindler Nicholas Cosmo, according to court papers.
Cosmo's $400 million-plus Ponzi scheme operated out of two Hauppauge-based companies, Agape World and Agape Merchant Advance, bilking more than 4,000 people, many of them on Long Island, by selling worthless investments in bridge loans to commercial borrowers and promising low risk and high returns.
He was arrested in 2009 and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud the following year. In September another court upheld his 25-year prison sentence.
The $4.1-million damage award, according to a transcript of the proceedings, was made in a bench ruling April 16 by State Supreme Court Justice Emily Pines in Riverhead against two of Cosmo's sub-brokers, siblings Martin C. Hartmann III of Massapequa and Laura Ann Tordy of Wantagh. Sub-brokers worked for brokers to help them solicit investors and received commissions from the brokers.
The law firm representing the plaintiffs, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick LLP, of Bohemia, said the award was the first civil judgment obtained against the sub-brokers of Cosmo's two firms.
Pines ruled at the close of the trial that Hartmann and Tordy were liable to the plaintiffs for selling them a total of $1.36 million of phony investments in Agape World and receiving more than $3 million in commissions.
Claims still are pending against a third defendant, Martin C. Hartmann II, the father of the other two defendants, said Campolo. Pines has reserved decision against him, pending receipt of post trial briefs by the parties on May 20.
The attorney for the three defendants did not return a call seeking comment.
Cosmo is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, N.J.