Paul Geraci Is Fifth Person To Enter Guilty Plea…
BY: STAFF REPORT | BocaNewsNow.com
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — You never know who is recording you at a Boca Raton-area Starbucks. That’s the lesson learned by an area man who just entered a guilty plea after allegedly being caught in the act of running an investment scam from an unidentified Starbucks in the Boca Raton area.
This is the official announcement from the United States Department of Justice sent to BocaNewsNow.com:
Paul Geraci, 45, of Parkland, Florida, pleaded guilty today for his role in a large investment scheme in which he and others defrauded investors out of approximately $21 million by falsely claiming that investors’ money would go towards the development of a lucrative mobile gaming app that, in reality, never launched and generated no revenue during the scheme.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney, Southern District of Florida, and Robert DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Geraci pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. He faces a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment. The United States is pursuing forfeiture of Geraci’s home and under the terms of his plea agreement, Geraci must pay a forfeiture money judgment amount of approximately $1.2 million.
Geraci is the fifth defendant in the scam to plead guilty:
- Michael Assenza, a/k/a “Michael Grimaldi”, 44, of Boca Raton, Florida, the former Director of Technology at Social Voucher pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 52 months’ imprisonment on August 11, 2022;
- Ted Romeo, a/k/a “Ted Lamar”, 62, of Pompano Beach, Florida, an employee of Geraci’s boiler room who solicited Social Voucher investors, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 26, 2022;
- Paul Vandivier a/k/a “Doug Wright”, 61, of West Palm Beach, Florida, who operated a boiler room that solicited Social Voucher investors, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 7, 2022;
- Cindy Vandivier a/k/a “Madison Brooke” a/k/a “Madison Brookes”, 64, of West Palm Beach, Florida, who helped her husband operate a boiler room that solicited Social Voucher investors, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 7, 2022.
Gerald Parker, 78, of Juno Beach, Florida, the former Chief Executive Officer of Social Voucher, is still awaiting trial, currently scheduled for September 27, 2022. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Rodney Smith in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Geraci admitted in plea documents that, from the fall of 2016 until December 2018, he used Pinnacle Atlantic to fraudulently sell stock in a Florida company called Social Voucher.com, Inc. (“Social Voucher”) that was later referred to as Stocket, Inc. (“Stocket”). Geraci admitted that he and others at Pinnacle Atlantic took commissions as large as 50 percent of the investment, a fact that was not disclosed to investors. According to Geraci’s plea documents, he paid co-defendant Ted Romeo in cash to pitch Social Voucher stock even though Ted Romeo had a civil judgment against him (a fact that was, again, not disclosed to investors). Geraci also admitted that he knew the Social Voucher stock offering was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or state regulators. According to Geraci’s plea agreement, he caused between $1.5 and $3.5 million in loss to the investors.
According to court filings by the Government, Geraci was recorded several times during the scheme. For example, Geraci was recorded pitching Social Voucher stock to an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor, telling the FBI agent on the recording that his investment money was “all for programming and software and so and so.” In reality, the FBI agent invested $50,000 in undercover funds and half the money went into Geraci’s pocket. Geraci was also recorded paying cash kickbacks at a Boca Raton Starbucks to a man he knew was under a federal fraud indictment in Detroit, in exchange for securing investors. Geraci was recorded explaining to this Detroit fraudster that he wouldn’t disclose the kickbacks to the fraudster on tax returns and that is what he did for his employees “with these special backgrounds.”
After the FBI executed a search warrant at the Social Voucher office in June 2018, investors sued the company, and the court granted the investors’ request to appoint a receiver to take over management of the company. See David Goerz, et al. v. Social Voucher, Case No. 50-2018-CA-011965, pending in the Circuit Court of the 15th Judicial District in Palm Beach County, Florida.
U.S. Attorney Gonzalez commended the investigative efforts of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and their extensive work on this case, work that included numerous undercover recordings and multiple search warrants. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth Young and Will Rosenzweig. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Stone is handling asset forfeiture related to the matter.
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