A Jersey City man has been indicted on charges of allegedly stealing over a half a million dollars from clients of his investment firm and then spending the money on personal expenses such as casinos/online poker and football tickets, Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman announced.Â
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Evan Kochav, 33, of Jersey City, was indicted yesterday by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of theft by deception, money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official.
He also was charged with four counts of third-degree passing bad checks for allegedly writing four bad checks totaling over $85,000 to a client who questioned what happened to his funds, authorities said.
Kochav was initially investigated by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, which revoked his registration as a securities agent in October 2014 and assessed a $2 million civil penalty against him and his Red Bank-based firm, White Cedar Group, LLC.
The Bureau of Securities then referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice, officials said.
Between October 2012 and April 2014, Kochav allegedly stole approximately $561,745 that he solicited from 10 investors, often urging the investors to transfer funds from existing accounts at other brokerage firms. He promised to invest the funds in various business interests and investment vehicles, the indictment says.
In June 2013, Kochav formed White Cedar Group, LLC, which he marketed as an economic consulting firm that claimed to have relationships with a variety of investment groups and business partners in various industries worldwide, including real estate, manufacturing, and building development, among other, authorities said.
According to the indictment, Kochav allegedly diverted the investor funds, using them to pay personal expenses or to make nominal payments to investors to cover up the scam, officials said, Â allegedly laundering at least $274,000 through several bank accounts.
A professional poker player, Kochav allegedly spent a large amount of the investor money at casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as on at least two poker websites, officials said.
He is also accused of transferring investor funds to his wife and misused investor funds to pay for shopping, dining, air travel, hotels, football tickets and other entertainment expenses.
â€œKochav bluffed investors like the poker player he is, claiming ties with lucrative business ventures around the globe to convince clients their hard-earned money was securely invested,â€ Hoffman said in a statement.
“In reality, White Cedar Group was a scam, and Kochav allegedly stole investor funds to gamble and bankroll a lifestyle he otherwise could not afford.â€
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.