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Government witness in Ponzi scheme trials sentenced

An associate of Ponzi scammer Nicholas Cosmo, who cooperated with the government, was sentenced to five years of probation Thursday in federal court in Central Islip, according to officials.

Shamika Luciano, 34, of Coram, who testified as a government witness at the trials of several higher-ups in the scheme, was also ordered to forfeit $270,000, and make restitution of $179 million by U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley in Central Islip, officials said.

A bankruptcy expert hired to recover money for the victims said it was unlikely that more than a fraction of their losses would ever be recovered.

Prosecutors have said that Luciano, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, was Cosmo’s executive assistant at the Hauppauge-based scheme and also was his then girlfriend. She had faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Cosmo, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence, took in more than $400 million from more than 5,000 investors in the scheme between 2003 and 2009. Many of the investors were blue-collar workers who were promised returns of as high as 80 per cent.

Luciano’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment. Eastern District prosecutor Christopher Caffarone declined to comment.

When Luciano pleaded guilty in 2004, her attorney Matthew Kluger, said: “She was profoundly sorry and apologizes to many of the victims of this terrible crime.”

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