Saturday, April 10, 2021

Ex-president of Philly wholesale produce market allegedly stole $7.8 million for personal use

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The former president and CEO of a massive wholesale produce market in Southwest Philadelphia face multiple criminal charges for allegedly funneling away $7.8 million from the company for his own personal benefit, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Caesar “Sonny” DiCrecchio, 60, of Vorhees, New Jersey, was the head of Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, a sprawling complex on Essington Avenue with business roots reaching back several decades in the city’s produce industry.

DiCrecchio had presided over the market for 20 years when he abruptly resigned in 2018, amid rumblings of a federal probe into his and the company’s finances, as well as possible connections to other local crime figures.

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On Thursday, DiCrecchio was charged with 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.

Prosecutors detailed a range of methods DiCrecchio allegedly used to defraud the market, where he had full control over every aspect of its expenditures and funds. Over a period of several years, DiCrecchio is accused of the following abuses of the market’s finances:

•Using company funds to pay $1.9 million in rent on his Stone Harbor, New Jersey shore house

•Converting into cash $1.1 million in checks drawn on the market’s bank account and using the cash for his own benefit

•Causing $1.7 million in checks to be issued from the market’s operating account to his friends or relatives

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•Causing the market to pay for the defendant’s personal credit card expenditures

•Converting $320,000 in checks that were payable to the market and cashing them for his own benefit

•Skimming $2.6 million in cash from the pay gate at the market’s parking lot, which he used to pay market employees ‘under the table’ while keeping a substantial portion for his own use

•Using Market funds to provide a $180,000 loan to a vendor, which the vendor repaid directly to DiCrecchio

According to prosecutors, DiCrecchio concealed these activities by ensuring the payments were reflected in records as legitimate business expenditures. They were variously notated as maintenance, snow removal, insurance, legal fees and other false expenditure entries.

DiCrecchio also is accused of aggravated identity theft for allegedly cashing checks at a currency exchange using the name of a victim who had no knowledge of the arrangement.

Investigators allege DiCrecchio further concealed his activities by conspiring with two unnamed individuals to launder approximately $319,736, coordinating money orders at a currency exchange to obscure the use of market funds.

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The IRS also investigated DiCrecchio’s taxes and found that he allegedly attempted to evade more than $2.1 million in federal income tax for the tax years 2014 through 2017.

As part of the federal investigation, prosecutors separately charged 42-year-old Thomas Del Borrello for his alleged role in facilitating fraudulent currency transactions for DiCrecchio through his United Check Cashing business on South Broad Street.

Del Borello, of Sewell, New Jersey, faces eight counts of aggravated false filing of a currency transaction report and one count of aggravated failure to file a currency transaction report.

“Complexity will not hide the crime from law enforcement,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “Further, and as alleged here, ‘nickel and dime’ theft – skimming small amounts here and there over many years – is just as illegal as stealing one large lump sum. The charges announced today reflect our office’s commitment to uncovering and prosecuting complicated financial frauds.”

DiCrecchio faces a maximum sentence of 102 years in prison, a three-year period of supervised release and a fine of $2,500,000. Del Borrello faces a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison a three-year period of supervised release and a fine of $4,500,000.

“The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market has and continues to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office in this matter, and we look forward to those criminally responsible for the fraud being held accountable,” said a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

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