An East Setauket resident was arrested May 30 for allegedly stealing millions from elderly victims in a Ponzi scheme, according to a statement from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Steven Pagartanis, 58, was arraigned in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip on two counts of first-degree grand larceny, a B felony, and two counts of second-degree grand larceny, a C felony. According to the district attorney’s office, Pagartanis allegedly stole approximately $7.5 million from his victims. Pagartanis was released following the arraignment on supervised release with GPS monitoring.
“The defendant described to victims a great investment they could make by trusting him with their hard-earned money,” District Attorney Tim Sini said. “In some cases, victims gave the defendant their life savings. The defendant then used those monies to pay off earlier investors in his scheme and to fund his personal lifestyle.”
Pagartanis worked as a financial planner and is the owner of Omega Planning Associates, a financial planning business located at 100 North Country Road in East Setauket. He allegedly told victims he was investing their money in Genesis Land Development Corp., a building and land development company based in Calgary, Canada, according to Sini’s office.
Pagartanis then allegedly deposited the funds into an account called “Genesis Holding” and used the money to pay back prior investors in the scheme. The defendant also allegedly used some of the money on personal expenses, including retail purchases and dining.
“We’ve identified well over a dozen victims and we believe there are more victims out there,” Sini said.
The case was brought to the attention of the district attorney’s office by a family member of one of the victims. The four victims included in the felony complaints, who range in age from 64 to 83 years old, began investing in the scheme in 2013, according to the statement.
Pursuant to a concurrent investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., Pagartanis was barred from acting as a securities broker April 10, according to FINRA’s website, brokercheck.finra.org. The website lists customer disputes as well as a judgement/lien.
In addition to the criminal charges, a civil lawsuit was filed against Pagartanis May 30 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Sini’s office.
If convicted, Pagartanis faces a maximum sentence of eight to 25 years in prison on each count of first-degree grand larceny and a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison on each count of second-degree grand larceny. Pagartanis is due back in court July 24.
An attempt to reach Pagartanis was unsuccessful. When calling his office, a message played stating the number is not set up to receive messages. The company’s website www.omegaplanning.com is currently offline.
The district attorney’s office is asking if anyone invested money with Pagartanis, or has any information about the defendant, to call 631-853-5602.