A St. Augustine man has been sentenced to serve the next five years in a Florida prison for operating a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that purportedly dealt in exotic cars and motorcycles. Anthony Robert Fregenti Jr., 42, received the sentence last week from Judge J. David Walsh, and could have faced up to a 15-year sentence had he failed to comply with a provision of his plea agreement that called for him to make $300,000 in restitution payments to investors during the period between his guilty plea and sentencing. After his release from prison, Fregenti must not only serve twenty years of probation, but also is required to pay $100,000 per year towards $3 million in court-ordered restitution.
Fregenti operated several businesses in Flagler County, Florida, including Dark Hawk Enterprises LLC ("Dark Hawk"). According to authorities, Fregenti solicited individuals to invest in Dark Hawk, which purportedly specialized in the purchase and re-sale of exotic cars and motorcycles. Potential investors were told that Fregenti could realize outsized returns by shipping luxurious vehicles to foreign buyers, including a Saudi Arabian Prince.
However, while investor contracts included vehicle identification numbers ("VIN") purportedly representing their investment, authorities alleged that not only did Fregenti fail to purchase these vehicles, but also used the same VINs multiple times. Fregenti was accused of using new investor funds to pay returns to existing investors - a classic hallmark of a Ponzi scheme. After being charged with 33 felony charges in 2012, Fregenti pleaded guilty to 20 charges in September 2013.