Peter Quartararo is sentenced at the Nassau County Courthouse in...

Peter Quartararo is sentenced at the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on Friday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A barred Glen Cove stock trader who swindled friends and neighbors out of a half million dollars by claiming to have the inside track on deeply discounted share prices for unicorn companies was sentenced to up to 7½ years in prison Friday in Nassau County Court.

Peter Quartararo, 59, whose girlfriend, 81-year-old father and business partner also took part in the scheme, still owes a little less than $250,000 to his victims — people who babysat his children and invited him to dinner, according to Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly.

Quartararo had been a licensed stockbroker from 2000 to 2011, but after he failed to invest money he collected — again from acquaintances — for a penny stock tip, federal regulators rescinded his license and barred him from trading.

In 2018, he resurfaced in the stock trade, telling friends and neighbors that he could get them share prices lower than the ones offered at the initial public offering for billion-dollar companies like WeWork, Petco, Airbnb and Peloton.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A barred Glen Cove stock trader who swindled friends and neighbors out of a half million dollars by claiming to have the inside track on deeply discounted share prices was sentenced to up to 7½ years in prison Friday.
  • Peter Quartararo still owes a little less than $250,000 to his victims — people who babysat his children and invited him to dinner, according to Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly.
  • Quartararo had been a licensed stockbroker from 2000 to 2011, but after he failed to invest money he collected for a penny stock tip, federal regulators rescinded his license and barred him from trading.

He collected anywhere from $14,000 to $200,000 from each of his six victims. The checks were made out to his father, Leonard Quartararo, who pleaded guilty to his role in the scam in 2021, and his business partner, Paul Casella, who pleaded guilty in 2022. Both men received a conditional discharge.

Instead of investing the money, the group used it to fund their lavish lifestyle. Peter Quartararo bought a 2020 Mercedes-Benz SUV and put a down payment on a Maserati.

“This was a very intentional crime,” Judge John Zoll said before sentencing. “The defendant knew the whole time what was going to happen when his friends gave him their life’s savings. There’s a degree of pain and betrayal, and I do feel it needs punishment. The victims are still out their money. There’s still a sense of betrayal.”

Nassau County prosecutor Heidi Bausk had asked the court for 4 to 12 years, but the judge opted to pare down the prison time.

Quartararo missed his chance to stay out from behind bars when he failed to come up with the 75% of the restitution he promised the court when he pleaded guilty in February.

Quartararo’s lawyer, Gerard Donnelly, said his client had been making “some diligent effort to make sincere restitution.”

“Nobody wins in this situation,” Zoll said before sentencing him to 2½ to 7½ years in prison.

Civil fraud charges brought against girlfriend Lisa Eckert, the father and Casella by the Securities and Exchange Commission are still pending.

Quartararo, who was accompanied by his father at the hearing, said he was sorry for his role in the crime.

“I just want to apologize to the victims and the court. That’s all I have to say,” Quartararo said from the defense table.

His father stood up during the hearing and tried to intervene during the sentencing, telling the court officer he wanted to speak with his lawyer.

The officer told him he would have to sit down and stay silent or leave the courtroom.

Some of the victims wrote letters to the judge before Friday's hearing, but they were not available at press time. Two of the victims were in the courtroom but declined to speak to Newsday on the record after sentencing.

Donnelly called the Quartararo case a cautionary tale for anyone looking to get rich quickly on the stock market.

“This defendant has a history of defrauding unwitting investors. In the current scheme, Quartararo scammed victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with false promises of getting them coveted pre-IPO stock in highly sought after companies,” Donnelly said. “But if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.”

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