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Ponzi scheme targets priests
#309186 01/09/09 03:17 AM
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Lord have mercy! As if our priests don't have enough challanges in todays world. Protect them Lord!

Local Ponzi scheme
targets priests
82-year old Williamsville man
arrested for fraud

Last Edited: Thursday, 08 Jan 2009, 6:10 PM EST
Created On: Thursday, 08 Jan 2009, 2:22 PM EST

* Nancy Sanders

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - An 82-year old Williamsville man has been hauled into Federal Court on charges of mail fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme that targeted the clergy.

Richard S. Piccoli is charged with using his companies, Gen See Capital Corporation and Gen Unlimited to target priests and church members. Piccoli advertised extensively in local Catholic publications and encouraged parishes, priests and church members to invest with his firm.

Although he claimed to explain in detail to investors how he invested their money in discounted real estate mortgages, a review of his records showed no such investments.

The U.S. Attorney?s office revealed that Piccoli took in at least $17 million in investments since 2004.

If you think you?ve may be a victim of this scheme you are encouraged to contact the Postal Inspection Service Hotline at 716-853-5344 and leave detailed information.

The charges against Piccoli carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/Priests_Ponzi_Scheme_20090108

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Pani Rose #309214 01/09/09 07:47 AM
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In case anyone is wondering, Ponzi was an Italian swindler who operated (especially in Boston's Italian community) in the early twentieth century. He claimed to be able to turn a small investment into a fortune by playing the changes in the exchange rate between the lira and the dollar. He lost a lot of money for a lot of people who evidently forgot the principle that "if it sounds too good to be true, that's probably what it is!"

Fr. Serge

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Fr Serge Keleher #309223 01/09/09 11:11 AM
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I am glad he got caught. It was not so long ago another swindler in the North East was making mega bucks at diocesan/eparchial level and got away with claiming connections with the Vatican. He took a while to get caught and sent to prison. The USA seems to be a bit vulnerable to con men who only get caught only after making a small fortune.

cool

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Pavel Ivanovich #309245 01/09/09 01:51 PM
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This sounds like the Federal Government's Social Security and Medi Caire programs.

CDL

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Carson Daniel #309246 01/09/09 02:04 PM
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No, SS and MC are far worse. Did you know that 1% of your income goes to pay fraudulent Medicare claims?

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Bombadil #309316 01/10/09 05:29 AM
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[hawk fumbles around for his Economics Professor hat, which has been gathering dust]

Ponzi operations aren't necessarily a problem--although those that use later investors to fraudulently pay off earlier investors are.

US style Social Security is indeed a ponzi operation. The math canwork, although it doesn't in the US.

A ponzi-style social security could work if the rate of economic growth plus the rate of population growth exceeds the rate of benefit growth. To oversimplify the math, suppose that each generation kicked in some significant portion of their income while young, with the population growing 10% per generation and productivity growing 25% per generation (not unreasonable numbers). The next generation's contribution could pay them 35% more than they put in--with this ration working from generation to generation as long as the growth held up. [to do the math, we use folks that live for two periods; it does catch all the important parts).

Note that the first generation gets a free ride--it doesn't pay in, but the next generation supports it, which in turn gets a good deal from the next, and so forth.

Unfortunately, in the US system, the math doesn't hold up, as the payments are significantly larger than population+productivity growth supports. Roosevelt knew and acknowledged this at the time, but justified it because once workers paid in, they wouldn't tolerate it being taken away.

frown

hawk, puting his "doc" to a use for the moment

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
dochawk #309318 01/10/09 07:06 AM
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The Gospels are pretty clear: "Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the sick, visit the imprisoned, instruct the ignorant, bury the dead, etc...." (Baltimore Catechism - the blue and green books.)

After my Mom suffered her stroke that left her completely paralyzed on the right side - she lost her job, she lost her home and we went through the 100k she had saved within 18 monnths of hospital and nursing home care (8k a month).

So, without Medicare/Medicaid, she would have had NO professional care at all, even though I worked 2 jobs to keep her alive with ancillary services; I did her laundry and brought her meals that the non-ethics couldn't/wouldn't provide. (Try nursing home pureed 'meat' some time - it tastes like barf-flavored chalk.)

"Professional" Catholics sometimes laurel themselves with anti-abortion marches, rosary pilgrimages, etc., but when it comes to saving the lives of the already-born elderly, I hear the Nancy Reagan trope of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps". When you're 80 years old, hemiplegic and clinically depressed to the point of suicide, there's not a lot you can do on your own. And there's a lot of people out there in 'nursing' facilities who suffer real pain - physical and mental - and indignity. It's no wonder that they pray for the release of death and say: "just let me die". Been there and seen that.

What would Jesus do?

Oh wait-- He's consulting with His CPA to find a suitable donation for a tax deduction. (Matthew 401, Verse K)

The U.S. is not a 'Christian' country or culture. It's pluralistic. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't use our Christian virtues and principles to guide our civil life to care for those who are helpless, whether unborn, sick, disabled/retarded, or feeble. And $20 a week to church is not the answer. As the bishops' conference tells us: 'preferential treatment for the poor' as the hallmark of our Christian lives.

May the Lord have mercy upon all of us.

Dr. John

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Dr John #309324 01/10/09 10:04 AM
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Dear Dr. John,

Just to support your point - I'm still recovering from an incident a good ten years ago. An elderly lady had suffered a heart attack and was lying in a coma in hospital. In my own hearing (I'm the priest who was attending), the poor lady's niece said: "well, she has to start getting used to her surroundings"!

The elderly lady was dead within less than a week. I did the funeral, and with difficulty restrained myself from quoting that outrageous piece of stupidity.

Fr. Serge

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Dr John #309335 01/10/09 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr John

"Professional" Catholics sometimes laurel themselves with anti-abortion marches, rosary pilgrimages, etc., but when it comes to saving the lives of the already-born elderly, I hear the Nancy Reagan trope of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps". When you're 80 years old, hemiplegic and clinically depressed to the point of suicide, there's not a lot you can do on your own. And there's a lot of people out there in 'nursing' facilities who suffer real pain - physical and mental - and indignity. It's no wonder that they pray for the release of death and say: "just let me die". Been there and seen that.


Dr. John,

I missed seeing you here for quite a spell. Welcome. Were you caring for your mom? God blessed you for your loving care.

I'm not completely clear why you are so critical of "professional Catholics" as you call them or of Nancy Reagan or of how either has much of anything to do with the topic. Are we not to be careful with the money God has given us? I have no doubt of the goodness of financial care for the elderly. I have some problems with the way it is set up in SS and Medicare and with any scheme that is doomed to financial failure when it promises so much.

What would you suggest as a solution?

CDL

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Carson Daniel #310023 01/20/09 05:21 AM
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Hey, Bro. Dan, thanks for the re-welcome.

Since I live in Washington, DC metro, I see a lot of demonstrations, "days", rallies, etc. put on by any and every group imaginable. There appears to be a 'professional' cadre among each of these groups and I get really sceptical about the value of most of it. It's like the 'professional' wailers who were compensated in some form for showing up at Greek funerals and wailing over the loss of the person. I had a great-aunt who was one of them. (On the other hand, currently the city is ovewhelmed by people coming for the inauguration, and these aren't "paid" or "professional" participants I see on the subway. Nice change- they are really happy and excited.)

I know that both Social Security and Medicare rely upon the contributions of currently working and contributing folks to underwrite the benefits of those who are older. I believe the mind-set in the 1930s was that America would continue to sustain ongoing growth and back-funding would be consistently viable. Actually, the current Social Security trust fund is viable until 2041 (according to the independent Congressional Budget Office report) although there are some who are trying to scare seniors through these ponzi schemes.

I checked a Merrill-Lynch 401-k account - it was down, of course. But John Thain, the CEO, brings home $83 million a year. At 10 hours a day, five days a week, no vacation or holidays, his take home is $532.46 A MINUTE through the year. But retirees are losing their shirts, splitting or skipping their pills, and spending days in malls where there is heat. If he were Catholic (I don't honestly know) should be take communion? Abortion is certainly homicide and an act of violence, but it's 'abstract' since the victims have no names. What about the 'named' elderly? Why is there no march for them? They might actually show up and ask for real help from the participants. And then the: "well, I have to watch MY money" would come to the fore. There is no question that we have to be prudent and savers and good stewards of our resources, but we do have to care for those without support. (I read a report about several congregations of elderly nuns who are now on welfare because they have no resources and no "social security" since they 'never contributed'. In the Boston Archdiocese, teaching Sisters' communities received $250/year for teaching us little urchins in the '50s.)


So, in light of this, I get a bit exorcised about the 'professional demonstrators' or 'professional activists'. Save the travel costs and send the money to the Retirement Fund for Religious. Or programs for the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the 'lost' street kids, or the missions.

On big issues, call your legislators (or better still: write a REAL letter) and organize/motivate like-minded folks locally to do the same. It's waaaay more effective that marching up and down the national mall in DC. There are groups there every week of the year and - to be honest - no one takes much notice, unless they screw up traffic and then they're cursed.

Lord, help us all.

Dr John

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Dr John #310044 01/20/09 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. John
Since I live in Washington, DC metro, I see a lot of demonstrations, "days", rallies, etc. put on by any and every group imaginable. There appears to be a 'professional' cadre among each of these groups and I get really sceptical about the value of most of it. ... Abortion is certainly homicide and an act of violence, but it's 'abstract' since the victims have no names. What about the 'named' elderly? Why is there no march for them? They might actually show up and ask for real help from the participants.

There is a march for the elderly and I invite Dr. John to join me and 200,000 on Thursday for the annual "March for Life", which seeks the protection in law for life from conception to natural death. We are not 'professional' demonstrators but simply ordinary folks from across America. I would urge Dr. John (and others) to look past the media caricatures of us as nasty, evil people and get to know us. The best way is by joining us!

I will point out that it is wrong to label us as anti-elderly simply because we do not support every government program proposed. Indeed, seeking wise stewardship of the taxes we pay is a very Christian thing to do.

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Dr John #310048 01/20/09 03:25 PM
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Dr. John,

I am sympathetic to your valid concerns about the elderly. I, too, provided many means of support (along with my brothers and sisters) my parents for 14 years.

But I take exception to the "paid professionals" comment; for every cause has its paid professionals, including the Pres-elects fervant supporters. The elderly have their "paid professionals" who organize political projects...AARP and the dozens of organizations (some pretty sleazy) who seek donations from the elderly and their families.

On Thursday you will see tens of thousands sincere volunteers who will attend the March for Life, patiently enduring the cold, the waits, and the mud.

Ideally, the solution is to stop funding all the government programs and either let the taxpayer support his or her family by taking them into their homes and hiring home health..or by passing the funding to volunteer groups and churches. Then we can consider ourselves a "Christian" country.

Christ is among us!
Fr Deacon Paul




Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Dr John #310071 01/20/09 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr John
"Professional" Catholics sometimes laurel themselves with anti-abortion marches, rosary pilgrimages, etc., but when it comes to saving the lives of the already-born elderly, I hear the Nancy Reagan trope of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps". When you're 80 years old, hemiplegic and clinically depressed to the point of suicide, there's not a lot you can do on your own.

Dr. John you are wrong. And you are insulting. You obviously do not know much about pro-lifers. President Reagan or Nancy Regan in no way abandoned the elderly and those in need. Her comments of helping people to support themselves was not addressed to those in true need but to those who were third and fourth generation welfare precipitants who would not work. It is amazing how liberals distort and condemn anyone who does not agree with their rhetoric.

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Helen PR #310077 01/20/09 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Helen PR
It is amazing how liberals distort and condemn anyone who does not agree with their rhetoric.


This is a disorder against which conservatives have no more immunity than do liberals.

Re: Ponzi scheme targets priests
Athanasius The L #310085 01/20/09 06:22 PM
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As a young Jesuit seminarian, I remember an older priest remembering his early priestly years and describing older folks - mostly women - who slept in the cellar bulkheads next to coal chutes. The breadwinner had usually died, and there were no surviving children. In coal country, when miners were killed or died, the family was evicted from company housing and sometimes neighbors took a child into their homes and families got split up. Orphaned children were lined up at the altar rail after Mass in the hopes that someone could take them in. The point is: not everyone has an extended family to provide support in time of trial. The "New Deal" programs of the 30s were meant as a safety net, and while not perfect by any means, helped those who would otherwise be forced to beg on the streets. "To work I am not able; to beg I am ashamed." And many Christians barely support our parishes, much less parishoners in need. So, it seems that government programs accomplish some good.

We working people pay our Social Security and our Medicare every paycheck in the belief that by establishing a collective program, we can help not only ourselves for the future, but also those who are fallen on bad times - which could very well be ourselves. To call it a "tax" is a misnomer. They are actually personal financial accounts, like IRAs and 401-Ks that are managed and guaranteed by our government so that unlike the stock market, they don't lose value. Many people have dutifully saved, including my +Mom, but a stroke took it all away within 18 months. Without Medicaid and Social Security, she would not have had 7 years, but more likely 7 months.

In Acts, we read: "they held all things in common". And the deacons got their title as "service" members of the community by making sure that peoples' basic needs were met from the common stock. Sounds a bit like our Social Security and Medicare programs, as well as WIC and food stamps. Not to mention the public schools and public hospitals.

There are certainly abuses in any human endeavor - we've all heard of welfare-Cadillacs. Seeing homeless on the streets disturbs me a lot. Yet at least I know that there are social service agencies and other supports out there that people can choose to turn to. In the long run, it seems more Christ-like to live with some abuse than to condemn all the needy to despair. It's hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't even have shoes.

May the Lord bless all His children.

Dr John

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