Two key former associates of Ponzi scamster Nicholas Cosmo were found guilty Tuesday of fraud and conspiracy in a scheme that ended with thousands of investors losing a total of $147 million, federal officials said.
Diane Kaylor, 39, of Bethpage, and Jason Keryc, 39, of Wantagh, face up to 20 years on each count when U.S. District Court Judge Denis R. Hurley sentences them July 23 on conspiracy and nine counts of securities, mail and wire fraud.
The two were account representatives at Cosmo's Hauppauge-based Agape World between 2005 and 2009, when they convinced investors that their funds would be safe and placed in short-term loans to businesses at interest rates of up to 80 percent. But instead, prosecutors said, most of the funds paid commissions to representatives, such as Keryc and Kaylor; went to Cosmo's losing investments; and paid supposed interest on the loans to early investors.
The two knew that Cosmo, who had founded Agape in August 2000, had earlier spent 21 months in federal prison for defrauding investors, but they did not disclose this to new investors, prosecutors said. For their efforts, Kaylor made about $3.4 million and Keryc about $8.9 million, federal officials said.
In 2008, the two still "pried" money from investors even when Agape told them that their pay and commission checks may bounce and that the company had defaulted on all its 2007 bridge loans, according to Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, which includes Long Island.
A jury in Central Islip found the pair guilty after a four-week trial in which defense attorneys argued their clients were also duped by Cosmo.
Kaylor's attorney, David Zucker of Kew Gardens, said his client would appeal the conviction. "She believes she's innocent," he said.
Keryc's attorney, John Carman of Garden City, said his client "should not be held to account" for the crimes of a "world class con man."
Cosmo was sentenced as the mastermind to 25 years in prison in 2011 in the scheme, which took in $405 million from about 4,000 investors between 2003 and 2009.
"The defendants gained the trust of their investors," Lynch said in a statement, "and then betrayed that trust to feed their insatiable appetites for money."