Convicted fraudster Craig Carton should spend between 70 to 87 months in prison after a jury convicted him on securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges in November, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York say.
Attorneys for Carton, who is scheduled to be sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court on Friday (April 5), had asked for a reduced sentence citing Carton’s charitable work helping children with Tourette’s syndrome, as well as his addiction to gambling and trauma he endured as a child.
Assistant United States Attorneys Brendan F. Quigley and Elisha J. Kobre disagreed, writing in a 26-page sentencing memo (read it here) that “Carton’s fraud was not the result of an isolated loss of impulse control or a one-time stumble when faced with purported ‘crushing gambling debts.'”
“Instead, over a period of months, Carton repeatedly met with his victims, communicated with them, and lied to them,” Quigley and Kobre write. “He lied to get their money, and he lied to lull them into a false sense of security about the status of their investments. He took the time to create fake contracts and to forge emails. He communicated with his co-conspirators about moving investor funds through different bank accounts. In short, Carton was far from charitable to his victims and instead perpetrated a deliberate, extended, and serious fraud, one that is deserving of a serious punishment.”
It’s hard to imagine U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon will go easy on Carton; last month she sentenced co-conspirator Michael Wright, a New York strip club manager, to 21 months in prison telling him “There’s no difference between what you did and what Bernie Madoff did, except the scale of it.” Another one of Carton’s co-conspirators Joe Meli pled guilty to one count of fraud and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.
Prosecutors say Carton tricked investors into handing over millions of dollars for what they thought was the purchase of concert tickets for resale. That includes accepting $1 million from Ron DelGaudio, a Brooklyn pharmacy owner, for the purchase of Adele concert tickets. Prosecutors say Carton used $480,000 of the money to repay a casino where he had gambling debts, used another $250,000 to repay a bookie, sent $30,000 to a landscaping company and transferred much of the remainder to personal accounts.
“Over the next few months, Carton and Meli both gave DelGaudio purported updates on the status of his Adele investment,” Quigley and Kobre write, “even though they had stolen the money almost immediately after receiving it.”
Prosecutors also accused Carton of using fake documents to convince a hedge fund to hand over $4.6 million to purchase tickets for Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, the Chainsmokers and Ariana Grande. The money was instead used to pay back previous investors and gambling debts, and after receiving the money, Carton emailed Wright and Meli congratulating the pair for helping him to “survive the death bullet.”
Even after Meli was arrested by the FBI in January 2017, Carton continued to defraud investors, the government says, and when confronted in the early days of the Meli investigation, Carton reportedly lied to the FBI about his relationship with Meli and described himself as a victim when wire transfers between the two were discovered. Carton was eventually arrested in September 2017 and later indicted by a grand jury.
“From beginning to end, Carton was centrally and personally involved in all aspects of this fraud, and he benefitted directly from the false representations he made to investors and from the misappropriation of investor funds,” Quigley and Kobre write. “Carton’s victims were people with whom he had cultivated relationships, and he used his public persona to add a further veneer of credibility.”
As for his claims that he should be given a lenient sentence because of his gambling addiction, prosecutors write “Carton cannot claim to have been addicted to lying to investors, creating fake contracts, altering emails, or moving misappropriated investor funds through multiple bank accounts, i.e. the things that resulted is his conviction. At best, Carton’s gambling was what motivated him to access more and more money. Money that was not his. Money that he stole from his investors through fraud and deceit.”
Carton is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, at 11:30 am by judge McMahon at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in New York.