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Victims to recoup half their Ponzi losses

William Parente, faced with a crumbling financial world,

William Parente, faced with a crumbling financial world, killed his entire family and then himself. (Undated file photo) Photo Credit: Handout

Sixty-six people victimized by a Ponzi scheme run by a Garden City man who killed his wife, their two daughters and himself in 2009 will get back about half the money they lost, according to lawyers in the case and a Nassau judge's decision released this week.

Nassau Surrogate's Court Judge Edward McCarty ruled that each of the investors and creditors who lost money to William Parente should be repaid.

Since that amount totals about $15 million, and Parente's estate is worth about $8 million, each investor is expected to get back about half of his or her money, said Mark Brosnan, counsel for the Nassau County public administrator in the case.

"We're very pleased that in this tragic case, we're going to be able to bring some sense of justice to these people, and they will get back some of their life savings," Brosnan said.

Police said Parente, 59, killed his wife, Betty, 58, and their two children, Stephanie, 19, and Catherine, 11, during a visit to the older daughter at Loyola University in Baltimore three years ago Friday.

Parente laid their bodies together on a hotel room bed and then stabbed himself in the neck with a knife and bled to death, authorities said.

After the deaths, an FBI probe found that Parente, a Garden City estate and tax attorney, had been running a $35 million Ponzi scheme, telling dozens of investors that he put together high-interest loans for construction projects, according to investors and law enforcement officials. For years, investors got returns of 12 percent to 15 percent in quarterly checks, they said.

When he died, Parente had less than $5,000 in the bank, officials said. But he had numerous life insurance policies totaling about $8 million, including a single policy worth about $5 million, said Annabel Bazante, another lawyer handling the case for the public administrator.

The family's three homes, in Garden City, Westhampton and Brooklyn, went to Betty Parente's sister, who died several months after the tragedy, lawyers said. They now belong to the sister's husband and two children.

Uniondale attorney Albert Petraglia, who represents two couples who lost their savings in the scheme, said the case was resolved as fairly as it could be.

Petraglia said his clients were close friends of the Parentes. "They were almost like family, so it came as a shock to them when they realized what happened," he said.

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