Wall Street Broker With Mobbed Up Past Allegedly Bilked Widow Out Of $2.5M

A Staten Island-based Wells Fargo stockbroker allegedly fleeced a widow out of millions--and when found out, told her: “Now you can get a job like everybody else."

Wells Fargo "allowed Leonard Kinsman into its adviser network in 2014 — despite the fact that Kinsman...had multiple past complaints from ex-clients and two stints at since-banned brokerages," the New York Post reported.

"Kinsman stands accused of squandering a $2.25 million insurance settlement awarded to Robin Fratto of Freehold, NJ, after her husband died unexpectedly in 2011.”

Kinsman has what some would call a colorful past. He once worked at a small Wall Street brokerage house that was the centerpiece of what the Fed's called "the most ambitious scheme by organized crime to infiltrate Wall Street in decades."

Kinsman, who reportedly still works at Wells Fargo, worked at Meyers Pollock Robbins, which was part of a 1997 Federal racketeering indictment that charged 19 -- including high-ranking members of the Bonanno and Genovese crime families -- with cooperating to dupe investors in seven states and rake in millions. Named in the 1997 indictment were Frank Lino, a captain in the Bonanno family, John (Boobie) Cerasani, a Bonanno family soldier, and Bonanno associate Eugene Lombardo (we incorrectly named Lombardo in a previous version of this story); Rosario Gangi and Ernest Montevecchi, a captain and soldier in the Genovese family, respectively.

Fratto claims she came to Kinsman in April 2012, when he was at Merrill Lynch, asking him to put her windfall into conservative investments so she could live off the interest. But after moving to Wells Fargo in 2014, Kinsman forged her initials to set up aggressive options-trading accounts and traded risky stocks like Facebook to rack up massive fees, according to her claim.

In June 2017, she learned she was broke after seeking $500,000 to buy back her house at auction, she said.

“Now you can get a job like everybody else,” Kinsman told her at the time, according to Fratto’s complaint, filed by securities lawyer Stuart Meissner.

In 1997, the 1990s bull market had been raging for six years. Overlapping with that time period was law enforcement’s successful efforts to drive the crime families out of many of their historical cash cows: garbage hauling, the garment industry, and the Fulton Fish Market. Prosecutors highlighted the mob’s Wall Street efforts as a strategic realignment. The wiseguys were attracted to the booming stock market to compensate for losses elsewhere.

A 1996 Business Week spotlighted the mob's Wall Street infiltration in a story that revealed the shocking inroads it made into the small-cap stock market by establishing networks of stock promoters, securities dealers, and boiler rooms to sell stocks nationwide through hard-sell cold-calling.

(We wrote numerous stories about the mob on Wall Street with former Gambino associate Sal Romano, who was at the forefront. See When the Gambinos Dominated the Mafia's Infiltration of Wall Street.)

By September 2000, Congress was holding subcommittee hearings on organized crime on Wall Street. (See video below.)

The Meyers Pollock Robbins case involved an alleged plot to manipulate the stock of an obscure Arizona company. Two top company executives were among the accused in the "classic pump-and-dump operation" involving mob-connected brokers driving up the stock price so they and their accomplices could unload it for huge profits on the public. The participants were alleged to have earned more than $1.3 million in illicit profits.

Members and associates of the Bonanno and Genovese (and Gambino) crime families paid off half a dozen brokers at Meyers Pollock Robbins Inc. to sell stock in a company that owned fitness clubs. The racket kicked off when an associate of Frank Lino made a deal with Gordon Hall, the chief executive of Healthtech International, based in Mesa, Ariz., to artificially inflate the value of his company’s stock.

The mobsters used extortion, bribes, threats, and fraud to inflate the stock price of HealthTech and other penny stocks.

Turf battles over which family controlled how many brokers (among other things) resulted in high-level sit-downs. Threats were issued when applicable; one threat — to harm Hall’s family — was leveraged to ensure his continued cooperation.

FBI wiretaps provided key evidence in the investigation. Lombardo alone reportedly made up to 200 calls a day using three separate cellphones. FBI agents also intercepted conversations from cell phones used by Gangi and Montevecchi. Nearly 11,000 cellphone conversations in total were overheard during the 11-month undercover operation.

The wiretapped conversations also show that some targets of the eavesdropping had interests in illegal gambling and narcotics. One person is overheard discussing a planned trip to Nicaragua to buy shrimp, which prosecutors called a veiled reference to drug running, though prosecutors didn't charge the defendants with drug violations.

Court documents suggest FBI agents considered but abandoned plans to use audio and video-monitoring equipment. Federal agents in 1997 got a court order to use the equipment inside a conference room in Manhattan, though they dropped the idea after FBI agents were discovered late at night trying to install it.

In January, 1999, Lino, Montevecchi, Cerasani, Lombardo, and Gangi -- who appeared in court wearing prison clothes because he was in the midst of serving a six-year prison term in an unrelated racketeering case -- all pleaded guilty.