Ex-Stockbroker Gets 15 Years For Fraud Scheme
TAMPA A former stockbroker was sentenced to 15 years in prison today for racketeering, fraud, grand theft, and money laundering in a $1.1 million venture capital scheme. Ralph McNamara, a k a Ralph Deluise, 61, of Clearwater, was the president of Wall Street Connections in Largo when he defrauded victims who were trying to obtain loans, the Attorney General's office said. McNamara, whose stockbroker's license was revoked in 1991, was found guilty in October in Broward County. He also must serve 10 years probation after his sentence, the Florida Attorney General's Office said. McNamara conspired with co-defendants in 1999 through May 2001, setting up bogus companies for the venture capital scam in Ft. Lauderdale, Ocoee, and New York City. They promised their victims they had access to millions of dollars for venture capital funding and used fraudulent letters of credit from banks to support these claims. The defendants also created a bogus charity, the Albert Schweitzer Charitable Foundation, to add an air of legitimacy to the scheme.The defendants would meet in Pinellas County to split up the victims' money. Victims testified at the sentencing hearing about the impact the scam had on their lives. Several stated they had lost their home and filed for personal bankruptcy, and one of the victims became despondent and committed suicide. There were six victims who paid a little more than $1.1 million in advance fees and expenses. Co-defendants William DeFalco and Maurice Rico pleaded guilty to similar charges and cooperated with the state. They received five years in prison followed by 10 years of probation with the obligation of restitution. Philip Wilson, another co-defendant, died shortly before charges were filed in March 2003. Co-defendant Richard Keats, a k a Maurice Richards and Richard Kavenaugh, remains a fugitive.