WNY con man gets 12.5 years for fleecing immigrants

He bilked trusting investors of nearly $2 million, then spent the money for dinners at fancy restaurants, soirees at clubs, and vacations. Now, Raphael Romero of West New York will spend more than 12 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judgavelge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., who presided over the 3-week trial in Newark, ignored federal sentencing guidelines to gave Romero a stiffer term, heeding what a federal prosecutor called victims’ “pleas for justice.”

The judge also ordered Romero to pay $1.8 million in restitution to his victims, many of them immigrants who lost their life savings and retirement money based on his empty promises of significant returns.

Once he’s released, Romero, 39, must spend three years under strict supervision.

Romero caused “far-reaching and devastating” psychological harm to his victims through his Bayonne-based Maximus Financial Group, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey A. Levine told the judge.

Investors lost not only life savings and retirement funds but also funds from cash advances that Romero urged them to take — so they could invest more with him. Keep reading….

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