A father and his two sons have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud investors of about $3.8 million and use the money for their family's extravagant lifestyles.
Joseph DiBruno Jr., who prosecutors say profited most from the fraud, was sentenced to 39 years. His father, Joseph DiBruno Sr., was sentenced to five years. Another son, Nicholas DiBruno, was sentenced to 15 months. The three men were charged with conspiring to defraud investors and conspiring to commit money laundering.
DiBruno Sr., 74, of York, S.C., DiBruno Jr., 39, of Belmont, and Nicholas DiBruno, 36, of Belmont, were also ordered to repay their victims $3.8 million.
During sentencing hearings this week, the judge heard from elderly victims who lost their entire retirement savings to the DiBrunos and from other victims who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several victims told the judge how the defendants' crimes had caused not only financial loss but also enormous strain on their marriages and families.
U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney called the defendants' crimes “heinous” and “sickening.” He found that the defendants intentionally targeted victims who were vulnerable because of their age and physical impairment.
“Based on the defendants' convincing yet fraudulent misrepresentations, unwitting victims invested approximately $3.8 million with the defendants,” the U.S. Attorneys Office said in a statement.
“The money was not used for any business purpose, but instead was divided among the three defendants and other family members and used for the family's personal and oftentimes extravagant expenditures.”
Authorities said DiBruno Jr. withdrew from banks over $1million in cash from the investors' funds.
“The DiBrunos spent the remainder of the funds on electronic equipment, clothes, restaurants, cars, motorcycles, guns and jewelry,” prosecutors said in a prepared statement.
U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert said: “Con men and swindlers who prey upon investors should expect no leniency from the federal courts. Their conduct is intolerable and will be prosecuted accordingly.”
The defendants organized and incorporated numerous companies and solicited large sums of money from investors. The corporations ranged from a cholesterol-lowering milk product and a gold mine to a record company and a food supplement designed to cure world hunger.
Some of the entities, such as the gold mine and food supplement business, were shell companies created for the purpose of allowing the defendants to solicit money from unwitting investors, prosecutors alleged.
“Other entities, such as the milk product and the record companies, were operational businesses but were robbed of the ability to operate successfully because the defendants used the investment money for personal expenditures,” prosecutors said in their statement.