ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A Rockford man accused of stealing more than $20 million from local investors plead not guilty today in federal court. Anthony D'Agostino is the former president of Commercial Mortgage and Finance. He told a judge today he didn't operate the business as a Ponzi scheme.
D'Agostino is accused of stealing people's retirement money, their vacation money, their life savings. Court documents show about 1,400 people lost their money, some of them sat in court today and could be overheard saying things like "it's strange to be called a victim, but we are."
D'Agostino, who is 77-years-old, allegedly conned people out of their money from 1997 to 2008. Today he showed up to court with his wife and a private attorney and spoke very little. He was released on a $4,500 recognizance bond and ordered not to leave the country. Lawyers for the people who lost their money say investors have gotten about 18 percent of their money back.
"Ideally it would be wonderful to get 30 percent back to the creditors um it's just impossible to determine the exact amount at this point because a lot of the assets that remain are undeveloped land and we don't know how much funds we'll be able to get for that,” said Attorney Jocelyn Koch with law firm Holmstrom and Kennedy.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says they gathered more than 1,300 pages of evidence during their investigation. Federal prosecutors now want D'Agostino turn over all of his tax information.
Currently, Commerical Mortgage and Finance is still in business, but it's being operated by a board of creditors, people who actually lost their money. The bankruptcy case is winding down. It's still in the same building downtown, but they plan to move soon to save money. Today prosecutors wanted to make sure no evidence would be destroyed during that move.