The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Bedford man sentenced for bilking investors


By R.J. MARX

In a decision filed March 12, Scott Hockler was sentenced to a term of 48 months in federal prison. Mr. Hockler pleaded guilty to Judge Denise Cote of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn of one count of wire fraud, a crime committed in 2011. “Perhaps I was naive, but I believed and trusted him,” said Victoria Cerami of Rye, in a letter to the judge urging a strict sentence.

Ms. Cerami, a CEO for an audio company, lost more than $100,000 in a bogus silver investment. Along with Ms. Cerami, more victims may be waiting in the wings.

Other alleged victims are lining up for potential future suits against Mr. Hockler. To date, Ms. Cerami is the only victim file suit, but Diane Gerardi, an interior designer based in New York City, said that she and a second alleged victim have both contacted investigators for the United States Postal Service and the New York City district attorney’s office.

“In regard to Mr. Hockler, he’s already pled guilty and accepted responsibility on that one case and received an extensive sentence,” said one of Mr. Hockler’s lawyers, David J. Squirrell of Banks Curran Schwam and Squirrell LLP of Mount Kisco. “He’s in the process of appealing that case. I don’t have any comment about any other individuals who will be making allegations separate to the case that he pled guilty to.”

Ms. Cerami’s charges against Mr. Hockler led to his plea deal and sentencing. “When I met Mr. Hockler I believed he was kind, funny, well spoken and an upstanding member of society,” said Ms. Cerami in a sentencing letter to Judge Cote. “He spoke of his daughter often and seemed like a much-focused single father. He spoke of his extreme wealth, tremendous business accomplishments, like being added to the Swatch board of directors or being involved in the acquisition of Steuben Glass, and having a skilled breadth of investment skills and abilities. He was a very busy man, traveling abroad often as well as going to Newport, R.I., regularly to meet with the crew and captain of his luxury sailboat.”

Ms. Cerami said she invited him to her son’s junior party, and Mr. Hockler held out the promise of a job offer.

“Mr. Hockler suggested that I invest in silver over a Sunday afternoon coffee,” Ms. Cerami said in her letter to Judge Cote. “He called me the following day, checking in on me to see if I had made the investment. I told him I didn't know how to invest in silver, nor had I ever owned silver, other than silver jewelry. He said he would take care of the purchase and hold the silver for me in his safe, along with his own silver, which he said, was the largest holding of silver in the U.S.”

Ms. Cerami said she wired the money to his personal JP Morgan account. “We spoke again, after a bit of time, and he suggested I invest additional monies in silver as it was a good investment, citing what a great investment, now totaling $104,000, I had made.”

According to Ms. Cerami, in her letter to the judge, a few months later Mr. Hockler said he wanted to put her investment in his investment vehicle called Verne, which he represented. He told her the company was based in London and invested in commodities. “Again, perhaps I was naive, but I believed his representations, and he convinced me to invest approximately $104,000 with him,” she said. “I wired the investment to his personal account at JP Morgan, and he promised that I would receive documentation of the investment shortly after I wired the money. Over the next six months, via numerous phone calls, text messages and emails, I attempted to secure documentation of my investment with him. To my great distress no such documentation was ever received. I felt betrayed, used, foolish.

“As I think back on how Mr. Hockler stole from me, I recognize that it was a premeditated scheme to steal money from me,” Ms. Cerami said. “He recognized me as an honest, trusting and unsophisticated investor. He intentionally mislead me to believe that he was a knowledgeable, professional and successful investor. He preyed on my naiveté and artfully convinced me to invest with him.”

Mr. Hockler was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $104,280 to the court for disbursement to the victim and a $3,000 fine.

According to the indictment, from March 2011, Mr. Hockler “willfully and knowingly” devised a scheme to defraud the victim of more than $104,000 for a purported investment. Mr. Hockler pleaded guilty to this charge in October 2012.

The interior designer, Diane Gerardi, said she was attending an event at the Greenwich Polo Club when she was approached by Mr. Hockler. “He basically lived a life of lies,” she said on Wednesday. “Beyond lies, he wasn’t who he said he was. He lived in this beautiful home in Bedford, told me he had full custody of his daughter, that he was divorced. It ended up he was still married. This guy has been living the life of a con artist for years in the town of Bedford and in Greenwich. I ended up investing $250,000 in one of his funds that turned out to be bogus. There was no fund. He took my money.”

Ms. Gerardi said that she is one of several people who are coming forward to work with the U.S. Postal Service and the New York City district attorney’s office to file complaints. She estimated that overall, Mr. Hockler defrauded clients of “well over $1 million.”

She said that she invested her life savings with Mr. Hockler. “For three years he had been telling me, ‘you’ll get a reconciliation, it’s now, it’s at $850,000, you’ll get a reconciliation,’ talking in circles, a true con artist. Manipulative, and I fell for it. He wanted to meet me in Bermuda. There was always a story. There was always some crazy, complicated story.”

She said that it never dawned on her that there was fraud at hand until his sentencing on March 12. At that time, an attorney, as well as postal inspectors, contacted her.

Ms. Gerardi said the money is well hidden. “His wife’s name is on the house. His cars have been sold. Here he is living this life of the rich con man.”

In addition of serving up to four years in prison, Mr. Hockler will undergo supervised release for a term of three years upon his release. Other terms of the supervised release exclude Mr. Hockler from owning a firearm and obligate him to cooperate in the collection of DNA by a probation officer.

Mr. Hockler’s lawyer, David Squirrell, said that an appeal is under review, “but he does anticipate appealing.”

Mr. Squirrell said his client had “already taken steps to make sure restitution was made, on that one case he pleaded guilty to. If there are any other people who are making allegations against him, I can’t comment on that.”

Jerika Richardson of the United States District Attorney’s office said that the justice department could not comment on possible future cases against Mr. Hockler.


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March 29, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

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  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

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  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


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  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

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Mount Kisco

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Cross River

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