After eluding authorities for 13 years, a con-man, living under an assumed name in Las Vegas, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring with a business partner to defraud investors in New Jersey of $1.4 million in the early 1990s.

Douglas D’Arpino, who was living in Las Vegas as Paul D. Martin, is originally from North Tarrytown, N.Y., and has also lived in New York City and Greenville, N.C.  According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, he posed as a successful entrepreneur or venture capitalist.

D’Arpino pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of conspiracy before state Superior Court Judge Eugene H. Austin in Hackensack, N.J. Under the plea, he faces a sentence of up to five years in jail and must pay restitution of approximately $510,000, his share of the money stolen by him and his partner, R. Steven Stackpole, who  was sentenced to six years in prison in 1998 in connection with the scheme.

Stackpole was also supposed to repay investors, but the attorney general’s office did not know if that had been done, nor his whereabouts. Stackpole owned Stackpole Designs Agency Inc. in River Edge, N.J., was described as a financial service, pension, and insurance business.  D'Arpino was the director of two financial services companies, Sterling Management Group Inc. and Whitney Carrington Ltd..

The New Jersey investigation revealed that between 1989 and 1994, Stackpole  and D'Arpino promised clients a 15% return investing a total of approximately $1.9 million in various fraudulent schemes.

About $500,000 was returned to investors as "dividends." The remaining $1.4 million was stolen.  D'Arpino paid Stackpole a 20% fee for each investor Stackpole recruited, although investors were never told about the fee.

Among the victims were New Milford, N.J., volunteer firefighters  and a nonprofit for missing children. D'Arpino and Stackpole claimed that “wishing wells” would be placed in malls to collect money for the children. Although a number of wishing wells were set up, the charity received nothing.

In the end, many investors lost their life savings after diverting money from retirement accounts or pension plans, Hackensack attorney David R. Softness told the Bergen Record. Softness represented 20 investors during an earlier bankruptcy proceeding involving Stackpole.

D’Arpino had been living in Las Vegas until he was apprehended there last June. 

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