John Sacco of Belchertown pleads guilty in national investment fraud scam
BELCHERTOWN — A 64-year-old Belchertown man pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to seven criminal charges including conspiracy, mail fraud and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The guilty plea by John Sacco of 32 Railroad St. comes 12 years after the former loan officer was convicted of bank fraud and sentenced to seven months of community confinement, according to court records.
The charges against Sacco grew out of a federal investigation into a national investment fraud scam he ran from August 2008 to December 2009. The advance fee scheme involved more than 130 victims and approximately $800,000, according to a criminal complaint. FBI agents interviewed 24 of the victims around the country.
Authorities said Sacco advertised in national publications, including USA Today, and used high-pressure sales tactics and fraudulent references to recruit people for a financial services company called SAC Financial. The victims who opted to join the company had to pay an advance fee of between $3,900 to $6,900 for membership and the advertised work they were to perform involved facilitating loans between borrowers with bad credit and lenders willing to make risky loans for advance fees and higher interest rates, according to the complaint.
Sacco’s advertisements offered “100 percent recession proof” opportunities for “guaranteed income,” and in one USA Today advertisement as much as $1.8 million a year, according to court records.
Several of the victims demanded the return of their advance fees without success. Federal agents said the scam was essentially a trail of unkept promises in which “all of the victims encountered various aspects of the fraud.”
Sacco was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm because in 2001 he had been held responsible for defrauding Monson Savings Bank of approximately $236,000 while he was employed as a loan officer at the bank. Authorities found a 12-gauge shotgun at his Belchertown home.
Sacco is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16 by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor.
Dan Crowley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.