A portfolio manager and senior independent executive adviser at a Secaucus-based real estate fund was charged with using a sham loan document to defraud an investor of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig.
Thomas Nicholas Salzano, aka “Nick Salzano,” of Secaucus, was charged by complaint with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Salzano appeared by videoconference on March 4, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.
Allegedly defrauding investors
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Salzano was employed at National Realty Investment Advisors (NRIA), a private real estate management fund with a purported $1.25 billion in assets under management as of 2021.
According to the documents, in May 2018, Victim 1 purchased three purported units in NRIA’s real estate investment fund for $150,000, after hearing an advertisement for the fund on the radio. Individual 1, a vice president and senior independent project manager at NRIA, offered Victim 1 a guaranteed 6 percent return for each unit purchased, paid monthly, for the first two to two-and-a-half years of the five-year term, and the potential of greater guaranteed returns after the initial period.
Near the end of 2018, Individual 1 approached Victim 1 about a supposed new opportunity to become a joint venture partner with NRIA in a property in North Bergen, allegedly owned by NRIA. According to Individual 1, the minimum investment was $300,000, and Victim 1 could use her original $150,000 investment in the NRIA fund toward the required $300,000 investment in the North Bergen property.
According to documents, victim 1 asked Individual 1 for more information on the North Bergen property. Individual 1 sent Victim 1 materials purporting to show that NRIA intended to obtain a $25 million bank loan on the property. Victim 1 asked for information on the loan. Individual 1 then referred Victim 1 to Salzano.
Twenty years in prison?
On Jan. 17, 2019, Salzano emailed Victim 1 a purported letter of intent (LOI) from Lender 1, a loan provider for estate investors and developers, purportedly signed by Victim 2, the chief executive officer of Lender 1. The LOI sent by Salzano was allegedly fraudulent. A representative later confirmed that the letter was fraudulent and that Victim 2’s signature was forged.
The wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The aggravated identity theft charge is punishable by a mandatory sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Macurdy and Jonathan Fayer of the of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Economic Crimes Unit.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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