July 14, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A jeweler who ran a failed Ponzi scheme and was left owing investors around $200 million was arrested and charged Tuesday.
Gregory Altieri, 53, promised investors that he could generate returns of between 30 percent and 70 percent in a matter of months based on jewelry deals he could stitch together. His scheme, which lasted about two years, collapsed in January and he was left owing millions.
Altieri, from Melville in Long Island, was arrested on one count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Altieri, according to the indictment, solicited between $75 million to $85 million from more than 80 investors based in Queens and surrounding areas. Some of the investors included current and retired police officers and firefighters.
Altieri allegedly began his scheme in August 2017 and told investors he would buy jewelry at “closeout” prices and resell it at a handsome profit.
He initially bought the jewelry as promised but began to use new investors’ money to pay “returns” to initial investors as he failed to make big profits.
Altieri used these payments to give investors the impression that he was making good on his promises of a hefty return.
He also used the purported returns to help convince earlier investors to keep their money with him.
These investors, based on false promises, “rolled over” their funds into new investments with him, according to prosecutors.
Altieri stopped paying investor returns in January 2020. By this time he owed around $200 million to investors based on the falsely inflated promised returns, federal prosecutors allege.
“As alleged, Altieri defrauded investors, including retirees living off their pensions, by representing that he was buying and reselling jewelry for big profits, which was a lie,” Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme said.
Altieri pleaded not guilty to the indictment and was released on a $750,000 bond Tuesday.