Joliet West grad sentenced in Ponzi scheme
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com May 6, 2013 3:42PM
Updated: May 7, 2013 9:51AM
A commodities trader who once mentored students at his alma mater, Joliet West High School, is headed to federal prison for defrauding investors of more than $3.8 million, authorities said.
James Brandolino, 44, was sentenced to just under nine years in prison for ripping off 50 investors in a Ponzi fraud scheme he ran for seven years, authorities said.
Many of the victims lost their life savings, authorities said, including college funds and retirement nest eggs.
Brandolino pleaded guilty to mail fraud in August 2011. He was sentenced last week to 107 months in prison and ordered to pay $3.8 million in restitution, authorities said.
From 2003 until January 2011, Brandolino solicited about $4.8 million from about 60 investors — about 15 from Joliet and Shorewood — including family and friends. He created fake account statements showing financial gains, authorities said.
In reality, Brandolino lost about $850,000 in unsuccessful trading, used more than $1 million to pay purported profit returns to his investors and kept more than $2 million for himself, authorities said.
Brandolino voluntarily confessed to his scheme in January 2011, appearing one day in the U.S. Attorney’s office with a lawyer.
When he turned himself in, the FBI reported Brandolino’s only assets were a luxury car, a Rolex watch and interest in an unbuilt condo in Greece.