NEW YORK – A son-in-law of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been arrested and charged with defrauding investors out of $7 million in a Ponzi scheme, according to a complaint unsealed in federal court.
Marcello Trebitsch appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Monday night on one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. He was released on bond. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
He is married to Michelle Trebitsch, Silver's daughter. The former Democrat powerbroker stepped down from his leadership position after being indicated on corruption charges in January.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that Marcello Trebitsch, 37, of Brooklyn, told investors he would use their money to trade in securities through his investment fund and promised them double-digit returns with low risk. But only a portion of the money was invested and Trebitsch used the remainder for his own personal benefit and to repay other investors, the complaint said.
Michelle Trebitsch, a certified public accountant, co-owns the investment firm Allese Capital with her husband. She has not been charged.
The investments took place between 2009 and 2013. The complaint said Trebitsch suffered losses with the money he invested and that he hid them from investors by sending them bogus account statements and tax forms showing annual returns of 15 percent to 19 percent.
"Investing in securities entails certain risks, but should not include the risk of being defrauded by one's investment manager," Bharara said in his statement.
Silver was arrested after prosecutors concluded he exploited his influence to reap $4 million in kickbacks and payoffs over a decade. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail. He said he'll be vindicated.