A Huntington man stole more than $45,000 from a recently widowed family friend who he lured to invest in a phony real estate venture, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said Thursday.
Craig Stone, 64, is charged with third-degree grand larceny, a felony. He was arraigned Thursday in Mineola before Nassau County Court Judge Karen Moroney and released on his own recognizance.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 2⅓ to 7 years in prison.
"This defendant allegedly scammed a recently widowed woman out of more than $45,000 that she had earmarked for her daughters’ education with a bogus investment scheme promising high returns at no risk," Singas said. "Con artists who prey on the vulnerable are especially despicable and we will do all that we can to seek justice for this victim and her family."
Daniel Schneider, Stone's defense attorney, declined to comment.
From 2013 to 2015, the unidentified female victim gave Stone $45,450 to invest in "real estate vehicles" with guaranteed returns of 10% to 11%, prosecutors said. The victim initially resisted Stone's proposal but after he continued to promise higher rates of return, she eventually signed an investment agreement with him in May 2013, authorities said.
The victim invested 16 times over the two years in small increments, each time at Stone's urging, signing a subsequent agreement each time, prosecutors said. She made her final payment on Sept. 23, 2015.
When the victim, who planned to use the investment return on college tuition for her two daughters, requested her money back in early 2016, Stone failed to respond to her emails or repay her under the agreement's terms, prosecutors said.
Stone, who is not a licensed investment adviser, spent the victim's money on utilities, medical expenses and made several cash withdrawals, officials said. He is due back in court Nov. 9.