- Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal
Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced
that a Monmouth County man was indicted
today for allegedly stealing more than $160,000
from an investor by pretending to sell him
ownership shares and product distribution
rights for an iced tea company.
to Director Paw, the Division of Criminal
Justice obtained a state grand jury indictment
today charging Steven Conni, 56, of Red
Bank, with second-degree theft by deception.
Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence
of 10 years in state prison and a criminal
fine of $150,000.
indictment alleges that between November
2003 and December 2004, Conni solicited
investments totaling about $161,000 from
a New Jersey resident by promising him ownership
shares in a company called Long Island Iced
Tea Inc. and distribution rights for its
iced tea beverage for the entire state of
New Jersey. Conni allegedly told the investor
that as a “master distributor,”
he would receive promotional materials,
sales support, a 10 percent cut of revenue
from distributors signed up in each county
in New Jersey, and $1 on every case of product
sold by those distributors. The victim never
received any of the promised benefits. He
has demanded a refund, but has not received
any payments from Conni.
investigation by the Division of Criminal
Justice revealed that the company is a sham
and Conni used the investor’s funds
for personal expenses. Conni allegedly wrote
checks to cash totaling $76,400 against
a Long Island Iced Tea bank account where
the investor’s funds were deposited.
A bank card for the account was used to
withdraw more than $83,000, including more
than $40,000 in withdrawals in Atlantic
case was investigated by Sgt. James Blong
III of the Division of Criminal Justice,
Major Crimes Bureau. Deputy Attorney General
Terrence Hull presented the case to the
indictment returned today is merely an accusation
and the defendant is presumed innocent until
same victim previously had invested $25,000
with Conni for distribution rights in Monmouth
County for a beverage called Loco Joe. Conni
was working at the time for an entity called
Charity Beverage, which was run by an individual
named William Richards. The victim later
learned that the offer was fraudulent, but
not until he had invested in Long Island
In the Charity Beverage case, Richards was
prosecuted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s
Office and pleaded guilty to theft by deception.
Richards received a five year sentence of
probation and was ordered to pay restitution
in the amount of $1,395,895.
indictment was handed up to Superior Court
Judge Gerald J. Council in Mercer County,
who assigned the case to Monmouth County,
where Conni will be ordered to appear at
a later date to answer the charge.
copy of the indictment is linked to this
press release at www.njpublicsafety.com.
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