A former Jersey City stock broker has been sentenced to eight years in prison for 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 Robert Lougy announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Evan Kochav, 34, of Jersey City, was sentenced to eight years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Critchley in Morris County yesterday. He pleaded guilty on Dec. 16 to second-degree charges of theft by deception and money laundering, officials said.
He was sentenced to five years on the theft charge and a consecutive sentence of three years on the money laundering charge. He will be ordered to pay restitution to the victims totaling in excess of $464,000, with the specific amount, which will factor in funds previously paid back, to be determined at a later date, 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.
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, 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.
“This investment broker stole the savings of his clients so that he could gamble and entertain himself, depriving his victims of over half a million dollars in hard-earned money that they were counting on for their families and retirement,” Lougy said in a statement.
“For his part, Kochav certainly earned one thing, and that is this lengthy prison sentence.”