SARASOTA — Gaeton “Guy” Della Penna, a financial adviser who lived on Siesta Key in Sarasota and defrauded clients of roughly $3 million, has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
Della Penna, who pleaded guilty in May to a pair of counts of wire and mail fraud, also was ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich late last week in Tampa.
The 62-year-old financial adviser was sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme after investments failed to generate promised yields. Following the sentencing, Della Penna was remanded into custody.
He was accused of using investors' money to repay other investors and to cover bad stock trades, and officials said he then generated false quarterly financial statements to entice investors to continue providing fresh capital.
Della Penna also used a portion of the money invested with his North Port-based Gaeton Capital Advisors firm to pay the mortgage on his waterfront Siesta Key home, prosecutors say.
The case, which was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and the Sarasota Police Department, was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelley Howard-Allen, according to a statement.
Della Penna allegedly conducted the scam from 2008 through 2013, meeting many of his victims through a Sarasota church. He turned himself into authorities last year, records show.
Initially, he was charged with 18 counts of fraud, a crime that could have resulted in 20 years of incarceration per count. Upon his release, Della Penna also will be under three years of supervised release, Kovachevich ordered.
In addition to the fraud charges, Della Penna also faces a civil complaint brought by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission related to the fraud.
“He fostered a false sense of security by creating bogus account statements showing positive returns when, in reality, he was operating a Ponzi scheme and stealing investor money,” says Eric I. Bustillo, the director of the agency's Miami field office.