Scavenger hunt widens for Agape assets
by David WinzelbergPublished: July 10, 2009Tags: Nicholas Cosmo, United States Golf Association
The United States Golf Association was hounded until it made good on rain checks for U.S. Open first-round ticket holders last month.
But the USGA is still trying to hold onto $31,875 it got from alleged Ponzi-schemer Nicholas Cosmo, who had reserved a hospitality table at the event for his company Agape World.
Agape’s bankruptcy trustee Ken Silverman, from Jericho-based SilvermanAcampora, has sued the USGA for the money, as part of his firm’s sweeping effort to recover a wide variety of assets from Cosmo and his former employees. The USGA wasn’t immediately available for comment at press time.
While the USGA won’t give back the money, other sports organizations are all too happy to get away from the scandal. Hugo Arias, who ran Agape World’s office in Jackson Heights, put a $75,750 deposit on a luxury box for New York Giants games at the new Meadowlands stadium. That money was returned to the trustee without legal action, said Rachael Dioguardi, one of the eight SilvermanAcampora attorneys working on the Agape bankruptcy since February.
The trustee has sued Arias to recover $10 million in ill-gotten gains from the alleged Agape fraud. Other Agape employees are in Silverman’s sights, such as Arias’ brother Bryan Arias, who’s been sued for $2 million, and Diane Kaylor, sued for $4.75 million.
Little by little, the assets from the alleged scam are finding their way to the trustee and will eventually be distributed to about 1,500 Agape World investors who have claimed losses of nearly $180 million.
“We have to uncover every stone in this case,” Dioguardi said. And some of the stones are far flung.
The trustee’s designated auctioneer, Plainview-based David R. Maltz & Co., is currently fielding offers for a 25-acre industrial property in southern Louisiana owned by Agape World. Cosmo had invested more than $1 million in a plan by California-based United Steel Supply to build a concrete distribution center on the Mississippi Riverfront site. But the company went bust and Agape ended up with the property.
Maltz already sold Cosmo’s Mercedes for $47,000 and his indoor sports complex in Hauppauge for $3.4 million.
So far, the trustee has collected $1.1 million of a $2 million settlement that Silverman’s team negotiated with ProMac, a cash-advance firm that was funded with $5.3 million from Agape World, but is unable to repay the whole debt.
Bankruptcy attorneys are trying to negotiate a settlement with the owners of Cosmo-funded restaurant Speranza Food Studio in Woodbury, who’ve yet to turn over their financials. They’ve also asked the court to force several futures-trading companies to furnish information about the millions transferred to them from Cosmo and his companies. The government believes Cosmo lost at least $80 million of his client’s money while trading with more than a half-dozen firms.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is also on the hunt for Agape assets and has put lis pendens on a number of properties and possessions owned by Cosmo, his company and staff.
In March, the federal government issued notice of its intent to seek the forfeiture of a Long Beach condo and Montauk house owned by Jason Keryc, a surfer and Agape World’s most prolific salesman.
Public records show Keryc paid $850,000 for the Long Beach pad in November 2006 and spent $2.7 million for the 10-room house on nearly two acres in Montauk. But before the trustee can put the properties up for sale, the feds have to prove the homes were bought with proceeds from the alleged Agape fraud.
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