Anthony Cutaia, who pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud by misleading investors and misappropriating funds, was sentenced in United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, to 51 months in prison for a real estate investment scheme. He is not licensed by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).
An Italian immigrant and one of 10 children, Filomena Marullo moved to the United States at 20 years old. She has 4 children of her own, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. She wants to share her story so others won’t fall victim to financial fraud. Filomena is one of 35 Florida investors who collectively contributed nearly $6 million to Cutaia.
In March 2003, Cutaia began soliciting investor funds through his firm CMG Property Investment Group, LLC, claiming the money would be used as down payments on commercial real estate transactions. The investors were told they would participate in any profits and also be paid interest on their investment. The investigation alleged that Cutaia only used minimal investor funds to further the real estate transactions.
Most of the money was used to make Ponzi-type payments to investors, pay personal expenses, conduct seminars and air television and radio programs. Many investors learned about Cutaia and his real estate investments through these seminars and programs.
OFR jointly investigated the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“I cannot tell you the pain I have been going through,” said 81-year-old Boca Raton resident Filomena Marullo. “That was money for my golden years.”
Filomena said she was forced to take several different jobs in addition to caring for her husband and coping with the pain of betrayal. She advises Florida consumers to shop around before doing business with anyone. “I learned not to trust anybody, even if they come from the church.”
“My heart goes out to all the victims impacted by Cutaia and their families,” said OFR Commissioner Tom Grady. “Investment fraud is a serious threat to consumers, particularly when fraudsters prey on those who know and trust them. OFR is committed to building trust by protecting consumers, investigating and assisting in the prosecution of these criminals and by enforcing Florida law.”
Filomena and Anthony, her husband of 56 years, said they lost $200,000 from the sale of their home to Cutaia, whom they viewed as a good friend from church. None of their money was recovered. “I gave him everything I had, and he promised me a better return. I put him in trust of my savings,” said Marullo.