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Harlem Restaurateur Sentenced to 5 Years for Running Ponzi Scheme

By Gustavo Solis | September 8, 2017 5:55pm | Updated on September 10, 2017 5:06pm

MANHATTAN — A Harlem restaurateur was sentenced to five years in prison for running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Hamlet Peralta, 37, raised more than $12 million from investors between 2013 and 2014, under the guise of funding a wholesale liquor distribution business. But Peralta instead used the money to support his “lavish lifestyle” and fund his failing restaurant, The Hudson River Café, prosecutors said.

“Hamlet Peralta swindled millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors who trusted him because of his reputation in the community as a business owner and restaurateur,” said Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement.

“Peralta deceived investor after investor through bald lies and forged documents, enticing them with high returns on investments he never made. Instead, Peralta used his victims’ money to pay earlier investors and to line his own pockets.”

Peralta pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in a Manhattan Federal Court in May.

In addition to his five year sentence, Peralta was sentenced to three years of supervised release, to forfeit $5.07 million and to pay another $5.07 million in restitution, according to federal prosecutors.