evan kochavEvan Kochav seen in a frame from a promotional video for Marcus Evans.  (Click to enlarge)

A financial consultant said to be have been based in Red Bank was indicted Tuesday on charges he stole more than $560,000 from investors.

The indictment of 33-year-old Jersey City resident Evan Kochav, handed down by a grand jury in Trenton on Tuesday, comes five months after the state Bureau of Securities slapped Kochav and his firm with a $2 million civil fine for defrauding investors.

From an announcement by the state Attorney General’s office:

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Jersey City man has been indicted on charges he stole over half a million dollars from clients of his investment firm and spent the money on personal expenses, including playing poker at casinos and gambling on poker websites.

Evan Kochav, 33, of Jersey City, was indicted yesterday by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of theft by deception, money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official. He also was charged with four counts of third-degree passing bad checks for allegedly writing four bad checks totaling over $85,000 to a client who questioned what happened to his funds.

Kochav was initially investigated by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, which revoked his registration as a securities agent in October 2014 and assessed a $2 million civil penalty against him and his Red Bank-based firm, White Cedar Group, LLC. The Bureau of Securities referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.

It is alleged that between October 2012 and April 2014, Kochav stole approximately $561,745 that he solicited from 10 investors, often urging the investors to transfer funds from existing accounts at other brokerage firms. He promised to invest the funds in various business interests and investment vehicles. In June 2013, Kochav formed White Cedar Group, LLC, which he marketed as an economic consulting firm that purportedly had relationships with a variety of investment groups and business partners in various industries worldwide, including real estate, manufacturing, building development, oil drilling and mineral rights. In reality, Kochav allegedly diverted the investor funds, using them to pay personal expenses or to make nominal payments to investors to cover up the scam. He allegedly laundered at least $274,000 through several bank accounts. Kochav, a professional poker player, allegedly spent a large amount of the investor money at casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, and on at least two poker websites. He also allegedly transferred investor funds to his wife and misused investor funds to pay for shopping, dining, air travel, hotels, football tickets and other entertainment.

“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,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “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.”

“Beyond his slick sales pitch, Kochav allegedly provided investors with fabricated account statements and false quarterly reports to create an illusion of legitimacy,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By the time investors saw through his façade, Kochav allegedly had stolen more than half a million dollars. We will ensure that he pays for his crime.”

Deputy Attorney General Thomas R. Clark presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice. Detective Katelyn Sake and Deputy Attorney General Clark were assigned to the criminal investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Monahan, who is Bureau Chief.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Bureau of Securities, under the leadership of Chief Laura Posner and Acting Director Steve Lee of the Division of Consumer Affairs, for its investigation and referral. The Bureau of Securities investigation was conducted by Investigators Isaac Reyes and Peter Cole, with assistance from Deputy Attorney General Emmanuel Asmar of the Securities Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up late yesterday to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Morris County, where Kochav will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment on the charges.

According to one online directory, the firm was located at 125 Half Mile Road in Lincroft. The bureau did not release the firm’s exact location in its announcement.