Steven Palladino, federal prosecutors charge, wasn't about to let an SEC lawsuit or state criminal charges for running a massive Ponzi scheme stop him from enjoying meals at fancy restaurants, tooling around town in one of three luxury vehicles or picking up new clothes at Barney's and some coins at a collectibles shop.
Palladino, sentenced to 10 to 12 years in state prison earlier this year for defrauding investors with his wife and son, now faces possible federal prison time for allegedly violating court orders in a civil suit brought by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission over fraud by Viking Financial Group, the investment firm the trio ran from atop their Centre Street ice-cream shop.
The FBI office in Boston reports Palladino was charged with 25 counts of criminal contempt last week for allegedly trying to evade a federal freeze on his assets and a court order to deposit any money he or his company made into an escrow account.
Palladino allegedly did this by withdrawing large sums from two new credit-card accounts he allegedly opened with false information and through some funny financial business with the three luxury vehicles he and his wife owned.
Palladino's latest legal woes stem from a judge's order in the SEC case last April freezing both his assets and those of Viking Financial Group and creating of an escrow account for any new money Palladino and his company brought in.
But over the next two months, according to the federal "information" against him, Palladino got new credit-card accounts with Bank of America and Citibank, which he used for, among other things, meals at Strega restaurants in the North End and at Smith and Wollensky and purchases at Barney's, Bloomingdale's and Mercedes Benz of Westwood. He allegedly spent $4,170 to buy coins at a collectibles shop as well.
According to the information, in one case, he falsely claimed to be vice president at another company with an annual income of $150,000. In the other application, he claimed annual income of $200,000.
In the month following the court order, the feds continue, Palladino sold a Ford F-350 truck for $9,500 and didn't put the proceeds into the escrow account.
And then, the feds say, he and his wife transferred ownership of their 2012 Mercedes CLS 63 AMG to a car dealership, which then transferred sole ownership to his wife - who then got a $90,000 bank loan, using the car as collateral.
The next month, the couple allegedly did the same thing with his 2013 Audi A5 Quattro coupe and with their jointly owned Range Rover Sport Lux, this time garnering $107,000 in bank loans.