Glen Cove man sentenced to 7 1/2 years for $1M Ponzi scheme

Glen Cove man sentenced to 7 1/2 years for $1M Ponzi scheme
Alleged squatters have reportedly been living in a property at 109 Evans St. for months. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Former investment broker Rand Heckler of Glen Cove was sentenced to up to 7 1/2 half years in prison Wednesday for defrauding friends and clients out of more than $1 million through a Ponzi scheme, Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said.

The 67-year-old pleaded guilty in April 2023 to two felonies: grand larceny in the second degree and scheme to defraud in the first degree.

“This defendant executed a classic Ponzi scheme, promising his friends and neighbors high-value investments, using money from new investors to pay earlier ones, and ultimately stealing a total of more than $1 million from several victims,” Donnelly said.

Efforts to reach Michael Finkelstein, the defendant’s lawyer, were unavailing.

The court issued Heckler a restitution balance to pay victims back $919,160, close to the total stolen. Some $48,000 was seized from the defendant’s bank account.

“Having a trusted financial adviser is essential to making safe and smart investments,” Donnelly said. “Rand Heckler used the trust of friends and neighbors against them only to enrich himself.”

Heckler first set his scheme in motion in 2015, when he recommended that a friend and the friend’s son invest in a hedge fund of stocks that he was managing, Donnelly said. It was believed that the offer was only going to be open to a group of his closest 15 to 20 friends.

Between December 2015 and January 2020, victims wrote him 24 checks totaling $755,159.

“Heckler lived large off of his victims’ funds,” Donnelly said.

The defendant spent the money on his mortgage, a country club membership, credit card payments and dry cleaning and phone bills.

Heckler showed investors statements with the name of the stock and the hedge fund’s current value, as well as fake receipts confirming the trades and purchases of stocks, Donnelly said.

In January 2020, the friend’s son, who has power of attorney for his father, asked the defendant for $100,000 from his father’s account, some of which was slated to go toward his children’s trust fund.

The requested money was wired directly into the bank account of the son, who was told the funds came from the sale of the stock.

But in May 2020, the Nassau County District Attorney’s office discovered the money wired into the account was actually from another victim of the scheme.

The defendant’s neighbor went to the bank in February 2020 with the defendant. She believed she was wiring a life insurance payment from her dead husband into the hedge fund to receive monthly dividend payments, Donnelly said.

In addition to defrauding neighbors and friends, Heckler cold-called residents of other states to convince them to invest in the fraudulent hedge fund.

In total, he stole $1,004,159 from four victims, the DA said.

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