A former Long Island liquor distributor was hit with two years in federal lockup for ripping off investors in connection to a wine product featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” officials said.
U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein sentenced Joseph Falcone, 60, of Rockledge, Florida, in Central Islip federal court on Friday on a wire-fraud conviction.
He pleaded guilty in June 2019 to raising nearly $2 million from investors — including for his wine-in-a-cup idea featured on the show — but then using more than half a million of it to pay his own bills, officials said.
“Falcone’s victims were reeled in by his ‘Shark Tank’ pitch, but with today’s sentence, the defendant is now squarely on the hook for his crimes,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme.
Falcone established the wine and liquor distribution business 3G’S VINO LLC in 2012, which was based in Bethpage and Farmingdale, New York, officials said.
One of the company’s products, a single-serving of wine in a sealed glass –known as wine-in-a-cup — was featured on “Shark Tank,” a reality show in which a panel of executives considers entrepreneurs’ business pitches.
From September 2014 to November 2015, Falcone used the TV cameo to persuade investors to fork over $1.8 million purportedly to produce the single-serving wine product.
Instead, the crooked businessman blew $527,064 of the funds to pay off the mortgage on his Florida home and bankroll his online securities trading, according to federal prosecutors.
In addition to the jail time, he was also ordered to pay his investors restitution.
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