Evan Kochav, an ex-stock broker and poker player from New Jersey, was sentenced to 8 years in prison on April 1 (Friday) after being found liable of stealing over half a million dollars from his investor clients in his investment company, White Cedar Group. He was also ordered by the judge that he must compensate the people involved who were led to believe that their money was being used for purchase interests in the industry and business.
Kochav founded White Cedar Group in the later weeks of June 2013, and earlier on that very same month, a broker-dealer firm in Illinois terminated him because he violated their internal policies. Kochav marketed White Cedar as an economic consulting firm that has relationships and partnerships with several investment groups and business partners worldwide and they are also linked to many industries such as oil drilling, mineral rights, manufacturing building development, and real estate.
From June 2013 until February 2014, 33-year-old Evan Kochav allegedly stole money (approximately $561,745) from at least 10 client investors he had solicited via his Red Bank-based company called White Cedar Group, LLC. He wooed customers to invest with him through his firm, using fictitious quarterly reports (they also claim to have holdings in other firms such as Google, Apple and Tesla Motors with a value of over $13 million), falsified account statements, and cooked up erroneous trade confirmations which concealed the truth of how the investors' money was being squandered.
Also unbeknownst to his most recent victims, last October 2014, the Bureau of Securities in New Jersey fined Kochav $2 million and also revoked his state registration.
Apparently, Kochav spent all the money on personal expenditures including playing poker at casinos, gambling at poker websites, purchasing football tickets, and other personal expenses.
The authorities believe that the business was merely a front for Kochav, who is a professional poker player, and he simply diverts the money to himself in order to pay for his gambling activities on at least two poker websites and at land-based casinos in Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Jersey.
The court also found that he allegedly transferred money to his wife for her shopping, air travel, dining, hotels, entertainment, and other lavish personal expenses. A meager sum of money was paid to his investors so that he can quietly cover up the scam.
"Like the poker player he is, Kochav bluffed his way around potential investors, claiming that he has connections with various lucrative business ventures worldwide so that he can easily convince clients that their money was invested securely. In reality, White Cedar Group was a scam, and Kochav allegedly stole investor funds to gamble and bankroll a lifestyle he otherwise could not afford", said acting attorney general John Jay Hoffman.
The indictment, which was handed up by a state grand jury on April 4, charged Kochav with money laundering, misconduct by a corporate official, theft by deception, and writing fraudulent checks for over $85,000 to a client who had inquired what happened to his money.
Should he be convicted of the most severe charges, Kochav faces up to 10 years in prison.