Rand Heckler duped friends and neighbors into investing with him and used their money to pay his mortgage, country club membership and other expenses
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that a former investment broker from Glen Cove pleaded guilty today to running a $1 million Ponzi scheme that targeted the man’s friends and neighbors.
Rand Heckler, 67, pleaded guilty before Judge Terence Murphy to one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony). The defendant is due back in court on July 20, 2023, and is expected to be sentenced to up to 2-1/2 to 7-1/2 years in prison, forfeit $48,000 that was seized from his bank account, and receive a civil judgement order for the restitution balance.
“Rand Heckler roped friends, neighbors and even strangers he cold-called into a Ponzi scheme that drained them of more than $1 million dollars,” said DA Donnelly. “The defendant used the stolen cash to finance a luxurious lifestyle, that included a country club membership and other expenses. Investment brokers are trusted to make smart financial decisions for their clients, but this defendant’s conduct shows he was only in business for himself.”
DA Donnelly said that beginning in 2015, the defendant recommended to his friend and friend’s son that they invest in a hedge fund of stocks and securities that he was managing. The offer was only to be for Heckler’s closest 15-20 friends and associates.
Between December 2015 and January 2020, the victims wrote Heckler 24 checks, totaling $755,159. During that time, the defendant showed them statements with the names of the stocks and the hedge fund account’s current value. The defendant also showed them false trade confirmations as proof that the stocks had been purchased.
In January 2020, the friend’s son, who has power of attorney for his father, asked the defendant for $100,000 from his father’s account, part of which was for his children’s trust fund. In February 2020, after several weeks of delay, he received the $100,000 via a wire to his bank account and was told the money was from the sale of stock.
However, the NCDA discovered in May 2020, after receiving the case from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), that the money was wired directly from another victim in February. That victim, the defendant’s neighbor, went to the bank with the defendant in February 2020 believing she was wiring a $100,000 life insurance payment from her deceased husband into the hedge fund, when in fact, she was wiring the money directly to the first victim’s son.
As this was going on, the defendant’s neighbor believed she would receive monthly dividend payments from her investment and did not know there was a problem until NCDA investigators contacted her.
During the investigation, at least two other victims were discovered to have been defrauded by the defendant in a similar manner.
The defendant solicited additional victims by cold-calling people in other states and getting them to agree to invest.
Heckler spent the money on his mortgage, a country club membership, credit card payments and daily expenses like dry cleaning and phone bills.
In total, he stole $1,004,159 from four victims.
The Nassau County District Attorney wishes to thank the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for bringing this case to our attention.
Deputy Chief Betty Rodriguez of the Financial Crimes Bureau and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Russo of the Civil Forfeiture Bureau are prosecuting this case. Michael Finkelstein, Esq. represents the defendant.