Adam Lacerda, 28, and Ashley Lacerda, 32, both of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey; Ian Resnick, 37, Abescon, New Jersey; and Genevieve Manzoni, 46, Lake Worth, Florida, were convicted by a federal jury for their roles in a $3 million conspiracy to scam customers by offering phony consulting services to propery owners and owners of timeshares through the New Jersey-based Vacation Ownership Group LLC.
The jury returned the verdict after two days of deliberation following a seven-week trial before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court.
The defendants were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Adam Lacerda was also convicted of nine counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Ashley Lacerda was convicted of one count of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Resnick was convicted of three counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Manzoni was also convicted of one count of mail fraud.
A fifth defendant, Joseph Diventi, 32, Somers Point, New Jersey, was acquitted of the two counts with which he was charged.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:
The defendants schemed to defraud hundreds of timeshare owners by offering fraudulent consulting services through their company, the Vacation Ownership Group (now VO Financial). Adam Lacerda, the company founder, president, and chief executive officer, devised the company’s fraudulent sales pitches. He directed his sales force to tell numerous lies to VO customers, including that VO worked with the banks holding the customers’ loans, would use money sent by customers to pay off the customers’ loans on their timeshares, and could cancel customers’ timeshares with money back. His wife Ashley Lacerda, the company vice president and chief operating officer, sent fraudulent contracts to customers and managed the office.
Resnick, a convicted bank robber, started as a salesman giving the fraudulent sales pitch but became Adam Lacerda’s enforcer, with the title “director of compliance.”
Genevieve Manzoni was a top VO sales representative who falsely told one victim she worked with a bank and another victim that she worked with a timeshare developer.
The 14 victims who testified at trial—including business executives, veterans, senior citizens, a lawyer, and a professor—were defrauded of a total of tens of thousands of dollars by the defendants’ sophisticated scheme.
Each count of which the defendants were convicted carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing before Judge Hillman is scheduled for December 12, 2013, for Resnick and Manzoni and December 13, 2013, for the Lacerdas.
To date, 13 other members of the VO Group have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced the jury’s verdict.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; and special agents from the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Mikulka, New York Field Office, New York Region, for the investigation. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for its assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alyson M. Oswald and R. David Walk, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.