West Roxbury man lived lavishly off of Ponzi scheme, police say


Expensive trips to the Bahamas and six-figure gambling debts were just some of the expenses police records show a West Roxbury man paid with what authorities say is millions he stole in a Ponzi scheme that devastated the investors who once trusted him.

A Boston Police investigator's report tracks some of the spending by Steven Palladino of Viking Financial Group in 2011 and 2012, a time when authorities believe he was defrauding investors. It shows:

  •     $55,000 spent at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
  •     $55,000 on two Bahamas vacations
  •     $100,000 wire transfer to MGM, Las Vegas
  •     $220,000 wire transfer to Caesars

FOX Undercover surveillance of Palladino earlier this summer showed him wearing a GPS bracelet – he's out on bail on criminal charges from Suffolk Superior Court that he ran a Ponzi scheme – but tooling around town in various luxury cars, including a Mercedes and an Audi. Palladino and his wife pleaded not guilty to the Ponzi scheme charges.

Now Palladino is facing more legal trouble, charged in West Roxbury District Court with loansharking: prosecutors say he tried to charge 40-percent interest on a loan. He was arraigned Wednesday and ordered held on $25,000 cash bail.

"I can tell you a number of investors are completely devastated. They've lost their life savings," said Dr. Ron Nasif, one of the investors in Palladino's company who is worried he won't see the more than $1 million dollars he has lost so far.

"Inevitably, he needs to answer where our money is. Where are these millions and millions of dollars of investors' money?" Dr. Nasif said. "I think he's not living the life of a man who should be in hiding. I mean there's no question that he's out about town, dining and moving about in the most expensive vehicles one could imagine."

There was no answer from Palladino when FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet approached him.

"We wanted to talk to you about Viking Financial," Beaudet said.

"I would love to talk to you but unfortunately I can't make any comments," Palladino replied.

"Your investors are out millions of dollars. What happened?" Beaudet asked.

"As I said, I'd love to talk to you but I can't," Palladino replied.

"Where's the money? You seem to be living a pretty lavish lifestyle," Beaudet said, but Palladino just got in his car and drove away.

Palladino's attorney, Phil Tracy, did talk to FOX Undercover after today's court appearance.

"Investors are upset. They believe your client is living off their money," Beaudet asked him.

"I can tell you that my opinion is that's not true," said Tracy, who is also appears on WFXT FOX 25 as a legal analyst.

"Where's he getting his money? He appears to be still living a pretty lavish lifestyle," Beaudet asked him.

"I don't know that for a fact. I don't know if he's living a lavish lifestyle. But he is allowed to spend some money. Spend some money to live," Tracy said.

"Is it stolen money?" Beaudet asked.

"No, no absolutely not," Tracy replied.

"Bottom line, where is all this money?" Beaudet asked.

"I can't answer that question. I just can't answer that question," Tracy replied.

"Are investors going to get paid back?" Beaudet asked.

"I hope so. I really hope so," Tracy replied.

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