A Ponzi scheme run by a West Roxbury family stole more than $10 million from dozens of victims, Suffolk County prosecutors said today.
A grand jury handed up new indictments Wednesday in the scheme that increased the amount allegedly stolen by Steven and Lori Palladino, who had been previously charged, and added their son, Gregory Palladino, to the case, prosecutors said.
“This is among the largest investment scams we’ve seen since Charles Ponzi’s scheme right here in Boston almost 100 years ago,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. “The losses here are staggering, and many of the victims are ordinary men and women who have seen their assets disappear overnight.”
Viking Financial Group, the company where the Palladinos were the sole employees, also faces charges, prosecutors said.
The Palladinos and their company face a host of charges that include larceny over $250, conspiracy to commit larceny, usury, and tampering with evidence. The Palladinos also face charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 — which carry a possible 10-year sentence, double that for larceny over $250 — because seven of their victims were allegedly over 60.
The indictments allege that the Palladinos used the company to obtain more than $10 million in investments from some 42 individuals, families, and groups.
Prosecutors said the Palladinos collected the money, promising a high yield from loans Viking would make to borrowers. But very little of the money was used to make loans. Instead, the money allegedly funded a lavish lifestyle for the Palladinos.
The money was often allegedly transferred from the company’s account into personal accounts of the Palladinos. The money was then spent on items such as luxury vehicles, a vacation in the Bahamas, rent for Steven Palladino’s mistress, and payments to casinos to cover apparent gambling losses, prosecutors alleged.
The indictments also moved an additional recent usury case against Steven Palladino from district court to superior court. In that case, Palladino had allegedly loaned some money to a businesswoman and then demanded 40 percent interest.
Steven and Lori Palladino, 56 and 52 respectively, had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
They will be arraigned along with their 28-year-old son on the new charges on Sept. 30 in the magistrate’s session of Suffolk Superior Court, prosecutors said.