By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former employee at a New York investment firm was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison on Friday after being convicted of participating in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded about 3,800 investors out of about $150 million.
Diane Kaylor, a former broker and bookkeeper at Hauppauge, New York-based Agape World Inc, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley in Central Islip, New York, prosecutors said. She was also ordered to pay $179 million in restitution.
Eric Creizman, Kaylor’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal. Creizman said the sentence did not reflect the 40-year-old’s actual role in the fraud or knowledge of the scheme.
“The sentence was way too high for what she actually knew,” he said.
A federal jury in April 2015 found Kaylor and another former broker, Jason Keryc, guilty on charges including securities fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.
Prosecutors said they played critical roles in defrauding investors at Agape, which was founded by Nicholas Cosmo after he had served 21 months in prison for fraud.
Lasting from October 2005 to January 2009, the scheme brought in more than $370 million by promising unrealistic returns to investors, and in typical Ponzi fashion some payouts were made with new money or funds from existing investors, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Kaylor took $3.6 million in commissions during the scheme, which she spent on, among other things, home improvements, luxury automobiles and exotic vacations.
Keryc was sentenced in February to nine years in prison. Cosmo was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2011 after pleading guilty. Six others were also convicted.
The case is U.S. v Ciccone et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 12-cr-00357.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)