Indictment: Financial consultant used clients' money at casinos and on personal expenses

Associated Press

A Jersey City financial consultant has been indicted on numerous counts stemming from the theft of more than $500,000 of investors' money, according to an indictment made public Tuesday.

Evan Kochav, who also is a professional poker player, faces four counts of passing bad checks and single counts of theft by deception, money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official. The charges were detailed in an indictment handed up Monday by a state grand jury.

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Kochav's lawyer, Donald Yannella, said his office was reviewing the indictment. He said Kochav was a "man of integrity and intends to satisfy all his obligations."

The criminal investigation into the 33-year-old Kochav started after the state's Bureau of Securities revoked his registration as a securities agent in October 2014. The agency also issued a $2 million fine against him and his Red Bank-based firm, White Cedar Group.

Between October 2012 and April 2014, Kochav stole $561,745 that he had solicited from 10 investors, often urging them to transfer funds from existing accounts at other brokerage firms, acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said.

Kochav used most of that money at casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida and at least two poker websites, Hoffman said. He also used some to pay for football tickets, hotel stays and other personal expenses and to make nominal payments to investors to cover up the scam, Hoffman said.

"Kochav bluffed investors like the poker player he is, claiming ties with lucrative business ventures around the globe to convince clients their hard-earned money was securely invested," Hoffman said. "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."

Kochav could face 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts. An initial court appearance in the case has not been scheduled.