Bad Gambler Pleads Guilty for Stealing Clients' Cash

It’s legal to gamble at Connecticut casinos, but a Waterbury businessman was playing with money he stole from his clients, and lost most of it. There-in lies the problem.

Thomas Cipriano, 53, of the insurance and financial services agency Cipriano Agency, got his hands on the cash by convincing several of his clients to take their money out of conventional investments and from their personal bank accounts and to give him the money to “invest.”  He sweetened the deal by saying he would repay their investment with interest.

He didn’t, which is why Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, sent out a news release on Friday, saying he will be sentenced in January for defrauding his clients of $1.3 to $1.8 million.

What Cipriano did do is launder the funds through his personal bank accounts and then went on to lose most of it gambling at Connecticut casinos, Dannehy said.

He spent the rest of his clients’ money to pay for his own personal expenses or to make “lulling” payments to other clients – something similar to what the ultimate Ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff, did.

A federal grand jury in New Haven returned a 16-count indictment in February charging Cipriano with mail fraud and money laundering, prosecutors said. It was released Thursday.

Cipriano pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $200,000 bond, but pleaded guilty on Friday. He will be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2010 and is being held until then.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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