TRENTON –A con man who eluded authorities for 13 years before his arrest last June in Las Vegas pleaded guilty today to conspiring with a business partner to defraud investors in New Jersey of more than $1 million in the early 1990s, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Taylor, Douglas D’Arpino, 64, formerly of New York, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of conspiracy before Superior Court Judge Eugene H. Austin in Bergen County. Under the plea agreement, D’Arpino faces a sentence of up to five years in state prison. He must pay restitution of approximately $510,000, representing his share of the funds stolen by him and his partner, R. Steven Stackpole. Stackpole, 71, was sentenced to six years in state prison in 1998 in connection with the scheme.
Deputy Attorney General Francine S. Ehrenberg took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau. D’Arpino and Stackpole were indicted in 1997 as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation was led by Lt. John Jespersen and former Supervising Deputy Attorney General Rodger Wolf.
Stackpole formerly operated an investment and insurance company called Stackpole Designs Agency in River Edge, Bergen County. The state investigation revealed that between 1989 and 1994, Stackpole conspired with D’Arpino to get clients of his company who had retirement and investment accounts to invest a total of approximately $1.9 million in various fraudulent schemes. One scheme involved “wishing wells” that the defendants claimed would be placed in malls to collect money for a charity that published information about missing children. A number of wishing wells were placed in businesses, but no money was provided to the charity.
D’Arpino and Stackpole promised a 15 percent rate of return to investors. In reality, they charged investors undisclosed fees of up to 20 percent and diverted investors funds for their personal use. Of the $1.9 million in invested funds, approximately $500,000 was returned to investors as “dividends.” The remaining $1.4 million was stolen. Some investors lost their life savings. The investors included several firefighter associations.
Austin scheduled sentencing for D’Arpino for Feb. 18. D’Arpino, who had been using the alias Paul D. Martin, surrendered to authorities in Las Vegas on June 10, 2010.
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