Dana Samarelli of 294 Lincoln Avenue in Secaucus allegedly committed the fraud between Sept. and Dec. of ’07 but it came to light in mid-March when North Fork Bank representatives questioned her about missing funds, the FBI said.
Samarelli said the fraud victim — identified as “E.E.” by the FBI — gave her $540,913.29 “as a gift,” according to the feds, which she put in a joint account in her name and the name of the victim at a Washington Mutual Bank in Bayonne. She later purchased a $134K Aston Martin automobile with the funds, the FBI said.
The victim is believed to be Eugene Ehrlich, an 84-year-old retired West New York resident who has sued Samarelli, her husband and North Fork Bank in civil court for restitution and punitive damages. (Here’s a PDF of that suit). Dana Samarelli is the only individual being charged by the FBI.
(Update, 4/8: Special Agent Bryan Travers in the FBI’s public affairs office told this website that the bureau does not release mugshots as a matter of Dept. of Justice policy. The only potential exception would be for a fugitive or otherwise “wanted” type matter, he said.)
The FBI said a co-worker introduced Samarelli to the WaMu bank manager, who then agreed to open the joint account without the other party (victim) present, a violation of bank policy. Samarelli gave false information about her employment and cell phone number when opening the account, the feds said, and told the bank that the alleged victim was too old to come to the bank himself.
Here’s the meat of the charges from the FBI:
Between April and June of 2007, the victim, E.E., entered the Hoboken North Fork Bank and provided Samarelli five checks totaling $540,913.29 for deposit into what he believed would be his personal, individual North Fork Bank account. But the checks never made it into the account.
Coincidentally, on or about May 20, 2007, a check in the amount of $200,000 drawn on the joint WaMu account and made out to cash was deposited into a PNC Bank personal account in the name of Dana Samarelli.
The same thing occurred again on or about June 5, 2007 –only this time it was in the amount of $345,914.49. Also, Samarelli allegedly caused a wire in the amount of $133,650 to be transferred from the joint WaMu account to Ray Catena Aston Martin on or about August 13, 2007 for the purchase of an Aston Martin automobile.
Weysan Dun, the FBI Special Agent in charge of the Newark office, announced the arrest.
Samarelli is charged with one count of bank fraud and acting as a principal in that crime.
She faces a maximum of up to 30 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine.
Here’s a link to the FBI announcement.