Monday, November 29, 2021

Former CEO of Philly wholesale produce market gets 10 years in prison for $7.8m fraud


The former longtime CEO of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market was sentenced Monday to 10 years and one month in federal prison for stealing nearly $8 million from the massive supplier of restaurants, grocery stores, and neighborhood markets in the region, prosecutors said.

Caesar “Sonny” DiCrecchio, 60, of Voorhees, who led the produce market for two decades, was ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution and be subject to three years of supervised release.

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The market, which is located on Essington Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, has been hailed as the largest fully refrigerated wholesale market in the world. DiCrecchio abruptly resigned in 2018.

Less than a month after his arrest earlier this year, DiCrecchio pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of aggravated identity theft, and four counts of tax evasion.

Outside of wholesale business circles, DiCrecchio cultivated a reputation for generous giving to charitable causes, but he spent far more of his ill-gotten gains on himself and his family.

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Prosecutors said checks drawn on the market’s account went to pay more than $1.9 million in rent for his summer home in Stone Harbor, N.J. Misappropriated funds covered boarding for his granddaughter’s horses, they said, while more than $1.7 million was diverted to DiCrecchio’s friends and relatives.

Maria A. Pedraza, the federal defender representing DiCrecchio, wrote in her sentencing memorandum asking for leniency: “There is no question that Mr. Dicrecchio knows that his actions were wrong and is extremely remorseful. The aftermath of his conduct has threatened the very stability he was trying to provide his family. Nothing can justify what occurred or rationalize conduct which is, at best, baffling and shortsighted.”

But, she noted, DiCrecchio was well-intentioned — “generous to a fault” — with his contributions to “animal rescues, homeless shelters, underprivileged children, victims of domestic violence, and children and families devastated by cancer.”

In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors were not forgiving.

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“DiCrecchio basked in the publicity,” prosecutors wrote, adding that “he so seeks out adulation to confirm his glorified image of himself that he will betray any law or friendship to serve his own interest.”

U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement following DeCrecchio’s sentencing:

“As the President and CEO, DiCrecchio had a fiduciary duty to steward the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market honestly. Instead, he stole small amounts here and there from various sources over many years in an attempt to hide the enormous scale and severity of his fraud: a more than $7.8 million loss. Our office is committed to prosecuting this type of complicated financial fraud so that justice can be served for all victims.”


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