Pinho Pleads Guilty To Stealing More Than $2.5 Million

ELIZABETH – Carlos Pinho, former president of the Portuguese Social Club in Elizabeth, pleaded guilty last week to stealing more than $2.5 million in a Ponzi scheme that targeted his mostly middle- and working-class immigrant club members.

Pinho admitted to convincing club members to invest in phony certificates of deposit at Crown Bank on Elmora Avenue, where he worked. Pinho promised higher interest rates on the certificates than the market standard, but he deposited the funds into bank accounts he controlled, authorities said.

Pinho could spend up to 30 years in prison and face a $1 million fine when he is sentenced on Sept. 21, but his actual sentence will likely be far less severe under federal sentencing guidelines. Authorities said Pinho is also responsible for paying restitution to his victims.

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