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Westchester Businessman Gets 5-Year Prison Term For Swindling Investors

U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre Daly pursued the fraud case against Charles Principato, 53, of Rye. Principato was sentenced to five years in federal prison during his sentencing on Monday in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn.
U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre Daly pursued the fraud case against Charles Principato, 53, of Rye. Principato was sentenced to five years in federal prison during his sentencing on Monday in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn. Photo Credit: File

RYE, N.Y. -- A 53-year-old Rye businessman was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution to investors, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

Charles Principato was sentenced in New Haven by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall, who also ordered him to serve three years of supervised release.

The $1,809,235 in restitution that Judge Hall ordered be repaid by Principato included additional money he owed to his victim-investors, according to Tuesday's press release.

As Daily Voice reported here in June 2014, Principato was charged with swindling investors, including residents of Connecticut, out of at least $1.3 million for a company called Prince Direct. The company purported to market products through advertising such as “infomercials."

Instead, Principato spent clients' investments on personal vacations, gambling and home improvements, prosecutors said. He faced up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

The investor fraud scheme was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan L. Wines.

Principato and his wife, Christine, previously were charged with failing to pay New York state income taxes from 2004 to 2008, according to several press reports.

Christine Principato pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor attempted income tax violation in 2011, paying restitution of more than $90,000. Her husband filed tax returns for the missing years; those charges were dropped.

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