Previously indicted Secaucus man now charged with investment fraud

SECAUCUS, NJ — A Secaucus man who was arrested by the FBI last year and then had his real estate investment firm shut down by the attorney general in June, has now been charged with 18 counts of fraud in securities.

The man is Thomas Nicholas Salzano, known as Nick Salzano, 64, of Secaucus. The Newark-based U.S. Attorney’s Office unsealed his indictment this week.

Salzano was charged alongside Rey E. Grabato II, 43, of Hoboken, who also has Filipino nationality.

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Salzano was taken into custody on Wednesday; he was scheduled to appear in federal court in Newark on Thursday afternoon.

But Grabato remains at large and is considered a most wanted fugitive by the FBI.

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The two men were charged in the indictment with 18 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States (tax evasion).

Salzano is also charged with two counts of aggravated impersonation, two counts of tax evasion and five counts of submitting false tax returns.

Federal prosecutors say the pair defrauded more than 2,000 people who invested in their real estate company, National Realty Investment Advisors (NRIA), and tried to evade paying $26 million in taxes.

National Realty Investment Advisors has listed its establishment at 1325 Paterson Plank Road in Secaucus. Last June, the New Jersey Attorney General issued a cease and desist order to the NRIA, the same week NRIA filed for bankruptcy.

The company has sold real estate investment fund memberships to investors across the country, including 380 investors in New Jersey alone. The NRIA claimed that all money invested in its fund would be used to purchase land or properties at below market value, which would then be developed to be sold at a significant profit.

The NRIA claimed that it was involved in numerous development, luxury homes in Saddle River at Florida beachfront condosand has issued numerous press releases about it: https://www.prnewswire.com/new…

Federal agents began investigating the NRIA after investors reported the company to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, saying they were losing money.

Additionally, Arthur S. Scuttaro, 62, of Nutley, who worked as a former sales manager at the NRIA, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of securities fraud conspiracy, in connection with the same scheme. He pleaded guilty the same day his employers were charged.

“This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions,” said Tammy Tomlins, acting IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent in charge of the Newark field office. “These defendants stole $650 million from investors. The indictment sends a clear message that the IRS and our law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue those who attempt to enrich themselves through fraud.”

You may have heard the NRIA commercials on the radio. To entice people to invest with them, the company used an “aggressive” advertising campaign, according to the federal government, which included radio ads and high-profile billboards in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. Billboard messaging guaranteed returns of 12%, with the added possibility of returns as high as 21%.

The Attorney General has warned that returns on investments like this are often “too good to be true”.

Grabato was president of NRIA and Salzano was the company’s shadow CEO. Federal prosecutors say Salzano made Grabato the public face of the company to hide the fact that Salzano at one point pleaded guilty to fraud in Louisiana, through a now-closed telecommunications company that he owned, called NorVergence.

In reality, the NRIA generated little to no profit and operated like a Ponzi scheme, only kept afloat by money from new investors, says US attorney Philip Sellinger . The New Jersey Attorney General previously said the pair used millions of dollars from investors to make lavish payments to family members, including a salary paid to Salzano’s wife for a no-show job. .

“This case should serve as a cautionary tale to the consumer,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Dennehy. “Before entrusting your hard-earned savings to someone, do your research on the person and the product they are selling; become familiar with the red flags that can alert you to fraud; don’t let dollar signs cloud your judgment; and remember the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Clever brochures, flashy advertisements and advertisements featuring celebrities miss the most important element: credibility… The sad reality is that the consumer is rarely reassured. Skepticism and analysis remain the best protection.

Salzano was first arrested by the FBI in March 2021: That day he was led by FBI agents out of his Riverside Court condo in handcuffs after a confrontation with police, where Salzano refused to come out of home for several hours and armed FBI agents surrounded his apartment.

Nearby residents were asked to shelter in their homes that afternoon.

At that time, he was released on an unsecured bond of $100,000 while the FBI continued to investigate the NRIA and his case.

After being charged, he was arrested for a second time this week. Salzano now remains in federal custody.

Initial report on Nick Salzano: Secaucus man arrested by FBI in financial fraud case (March 2021)

Closure of real estate investment firm Secaucus by the State of New Jersey (June 2022)


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