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Long IslandCrime

LI, Florida men laundered more than $3M in stock scheme, prosecutors say

The four men "conducted a classic pump and dump scheme" using a Plainview-based boiler room, said the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York

Two Long Islanders and two Floridians were charged with defrauding often elderly individuals of millions of dollars by persuading them to buy price-manipulated shares with a Plainview boiler room, federal prosecutors said.

Jeffrey Miller, 63, of Bellmore; Mark Burnett, 59, of Roslyn; Christian Romandetti, 58, of Indialantic, Florida; and Frank Sarro, 63, of Palm Bay, Florida, were charged with conspiring to commit securities and wire fraud and money laundering, according to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

“As alleged, the defendants conducted a classic pump and dump scheme designed to defraud the investing public, many of whom were senior citizens, by pressuring them to purchase shares of the manipulated stock,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. An indictment was unsealed in federal court in Central Islip on Thursday.

Romandetti was the CEO of First Choice Healthcare Solutions Inc., based in Melbourne, Florida, according to prosecutors. He and the three other defendants, along with other individuals, carried out schemes with Plainview-based boiler room Elite Stock Research from May 2013 to June 2016, prosecutors said.

The four men were, according to prosecutors, "artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares in the FCHS by artificially generating price movements and trading volume in the shares, and by including material misrepresentations and omissions in their communications with victim investors about FCHS stock."

The schemers, who laundered more than $3 million from the conspiracies, concealed their ownership of FCHS stock by putting it in other individuals' or entities' names, prosecutors said. 

They found their customers by making cold calls and circulating a newsletter, prosecutors said. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission helped with the investigation.

Miller and Burnett were arraigned Thursday in Central Islip; Romandetti’s and Sarro’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to New York was the same day in Orlando.

Burnett is represented by Billy Wexler, and Miller is represented by John Arlia, a spokesman for the prosecutors said. Neither attorney returned a call asking for comment on Friday morning.

Joseph R. Johnson, Sarro's lawyer, declined to comment, and Michael Shay Ryan, Romandetti's attorney, could not be reached Friday.

“Today’s arrests show our continuing commitment to protect investors and hold accountable those who abuse our financial markets in order to line their own pockets,” Donoghue said.

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