– Attorney General Anne Milgram announced
that a Bergen County man was charged today
with defrauding hundreds of investors of more
than $1.7 million by selling unregistered
shares of stock in his startup horseshoe manufacturing
company, which he claimed already had a prince
from Dubai as a client.
man allegedly stole more than $350,000 in
investor funds to pay for personal expenses.
Although he also spent funds in an effort
to launch the company, the venture failed.
to Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, the Division
of Criminal Justice filed a criminal complaint
today in Superior Court in Bergen County charging
Samuel M. Serritella, 64, of Garfield, with
the crimes of securities fraud, theft by deception,
misapplication of entrusted property, money
laundering and misconduct by a corporate official,
all in the second degree.
charges resulted from an investigation by
the New Jersey Bureau of Securities. Also
today, Bureau of Securities Chief Marc B.
Minor issued an order assessing a penalty
of $20,000 against Serritella for violation
of the New Jersey Uniform Securities Law.
The Bureau Chief found that Serritella committed
securities fraud and sold unregistered securities
as an unregistered agent.
defendant sold $1.7 million in fraudulent
and unregistered securities to trusting investors,”
said Attorney General Milgram. “He repaid
their trust by stealing hundreds of thousands
of dollars of their money and leaving them
with worthless shares in a failed company.”
was president, chief financial officer and
chairman of International Surfacing Inc.,
which was based at 5 Erie Street in Garfield.
It is charged that between February 2004 and
May 2006, Serritella fraudulently obtained
in excess of $1.7 million from more than 300
investors, most of whom were New Jersey residents,
by selling them shares of International Surfacing.
The shares were not registered with the Bureau
of Securities as required by law, and Serritella
was not registered as an agent authorized
to sell securities in New Jersey.
held investment conferences where he told
investors they could get in on the ground
floor by purchasing shares in a company he
planned to take public. He allegedly told
at least one group of investors during a hotel
meeting that the venture’s clients included
a prince in Dubai.
allegedly deposited the investors’ funds
into several bank accounts that he controlled.
He allegedly misappropriated funds totaling
approximately $354,720 for personal expenses.
Seritella allegedly wrote checks to himself,
made cash withdrawals at ATMs, paid credit
card bills, and made debit card purchases
using investor funds in the accounts. He used
the funds to pay for such personal expenses
as airline and hotel bills, tavern bills,
and medical costs. He also allegedly used
investor funds to make personal loans to three
friends totaling $84,000.
used some funds for startup costs for the
company, such as rent for a building, salaries,
and payments to a company contracted to assist
in manufacturing horseshoes.
Division of Criminal Justice is focusing on
more complex white collar crime cases, including
securities fraud cases such as this one,”
said Director Gramiccioni. “In prosecuting
this case, we are working closely with the
Bureau of Securities, which thoroughly investigated
the alleged fraud and thefts committed by
need to protect themselves by remembering
that an offer which seems too good to be true
is often precisely that – untrue. Investment
fraud is on the rise in these difficult economic
times and investments that promise ‘guaranteed
results’ or offer unusually high profits
should be carefully scrutinized before any
investment is made,” Bureau Chief Minor
Bureau of Securities investigation was conducted
by Acting Chief of Investigations Rudolph
Bassman. Deputy Attorney General Victoria
Manning represented the Bureau in its investigation.
Attorney General Francine S. Ehrenberg and
State Investigator Michael Fallon are handling
the case for the Division of Criminal Justice
Major Crimes Bureau.
has been ordered to appear before Superior
Court Judge Harry G. Carroll in Bergen County
on Wednesday, July 29 at 10 a.m.
crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years
in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000.
The second-degree money laundering charge
carries a maximum fine of $500,000. The criminal
complaint is merely an accusation and the
defendant is presumed innocent until proven
guilty. A copy of the complaint is posted
with this release at www.njpublicsafety.com.
Chief Minor noted that anyone offering to
sell securities in the state must be registered
with the New Jersey Bureau of Securities.
In many instances, the security itself must
also be registered before it can be offered
to investors. He urged investors to check
with the Bureau of Securities before investing
to see if the security and the person offering
it are registered. The Bureau of Securities
can be contacted toll-free within New Jersey
at 1-877-I-INVEST (1-877-446-8378)
or from outside New Jersey at 973-504-3600.
The Bureau’s web site is located at