The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) today announced that Howard Markowitz was sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in an investment scam. He was also ordered to pay $1,784,000 in restitution. Markowitz is the last of five defendants to be sentenced, following his guilty plea earlier this year.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “As Florida’s CFO, I am committed to ensuring all Floridians are protected from scam artists and that those who choose to prey on the hard-working men and women of our state are held accountable. I want to thank the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the FBI and all involved for your dedication to protect Floridians from fraud.”
OFR Commissioner Russell C. Weigel, III, said, “The Florida Office of Financial Regulation will continue to fight to bring financial criminals to justice and protect Floridians from financial scams. Thank you to our OFR investigators, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for their hard work in this case.”
Markowitz, along with co-defendants Thomas White, Simon Itah, John Reech, and Joseph Genzone, solicited more than $1.9 million in investments in First Call Ventures LLC, a direct-to-consumer marketing firm engaged in sales lead generation for businesses in the moving and transport industry. Victims claim that they were told they could expect 100 percent returns on their investments, and that First Call Ventures LLC, would generate more than $15 million in annual sales. The joint OFR/FBI investigation revealed, however, that the company was on the verge of insolvency, and that more than 80 percent of victims’ investments were used to pay salaries of company principals and for their personal expenditures.
The investigation was conducted by the OFR and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation provides regulatory oversight for Florida’s financial services providers. Our mission is to protect Floridians, promote a safe and sound financial marketplace, and contribute to the growth of Florida’s economy with smart, efficient and effective regulation of the financial services industry.