Using stories of how his company's therapeutic horseshoes were the choice of Olympic athletes, and were bought by a prince in Dubai for his camels, a New Jersey man bilked would-be investors out of $1.7 million.
If any of the more than 300 investors -- many of whom were police officers and firefighters -- checked out the stories before ponying up money, they might have kicked Samuel M. Serritella to the curb. The 66-year-old Garfield man was sentenced Friday to nine years in state prison and ordered to repay consumers he defrauded, said state Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor.Between 2002 and 2008, Serritella held investment conferences in hotels, telling people they could get in on the ground floor of a soon-to-be-made-public horseshoe manufacturing business. He sold them stock in his company, International Surfacing Inc. He even said the horseshoes were destined to be used in the Athens Olympics. Investors lined up to cash in on the lucky horseshoes, perhaps proving the adage that some people will fall for anything.
But instead of making horseshoes, Serritella used more than $350,000 for personal expenses, the state's investigation showed. While some investors' cash was used to rent a building and pay salaries, no equipment was bought -- making the business lame from the start.
Serritella pleaded guilty in October to a charge of securities fraud. And what about those camels in Dubai? Because of their soft, two-toed feet, they don't need shoes. Not to mention they spend most of their time walking through soft desert sand.
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