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The Dark Side of VO Group Revealed in Court

VO Financial Training Email

-written by InsideTheGate.com staff

In July, 2010 FBI Special Agent John J. Mesisca began an investigation into the Vacation Ownership Group (aka The VO Group), a company that claimed to be able to help timeshare owners relieve themselves of their timeshare debt, among other things.

In April, 2012 Agent Mesisca presented a condensed version of his findings in an affidavit he had prepared to show probable cause in support of the issuance of a complaint against 16 VO Group members, all of whom were subsequently arrested and charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud and money laundering, to the tune of approximately $3 million dollars.

The methods allegedly used by the defendants to defraud their victims, plus scripts they used, discussion of interviews with witnesses, victims and the defendants themselves are clearly spelled out in that affidavit, which you can read in its entirety in PDF format at this link.

Five of the defendants, the only ones who have not pled guilty in this case, are now being tried in Camden, NJ Federal Court. Those defendants are: Adam and Ashley Lacerda, (co-owners of both VO Group and its successor company VO Financial Corp.); Ian Resnick (a close and loyal associate of the Lacerdas); Joseph DiVenti and Genevieve Manzoni (both of whom were employees at VO Group). They stand accused of taking victims’ money through fraudulent means, failing to fulfill their promises and keeping the money for themselves.

The trial, which began July 22, 2013, is now drawing toward its final phase and the mountain of evidence that has been presented against the defendants by Federal prosecutors makes that affidavit seem like a molehill. It shows a dark side of the VO Group that belies the angels-of-mercy they represent themselves to be.

Included in that evidence is a long trail of bank statements and other bank documents, e-mails, contracts signed by alleged victims, scripts confiscated during a raid on the VO Group office detailing exactly how to get a potential client to commit to the company’s offers, taped phone calls between clients (and an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a client), and witness after witness who took the stand, some of them alleged victims of the fraud. Special agent Masisca also testified at length.

Ian Resnick, testifying in his own defense, said about his employment with VO Group, “I just found out I was going to be a father, and I really believed what we were doing and the concept was well meaning and needed.” While denying everything he could get away with denying on the stand, he insisted his past of cocaine addiction and a federal prison term served for bank robbery was behind him, and his only desire was to help people buried in timeshare debt. According to him, he didn’t know anything about any scam.

But Karen Wolffe, one of the alleged victims, was a reluctant witness who recounted that after multiple calls with Resnick — who told her things like “my life is on the line, I have an 18-month-old, I’m wrapping Christmas presents for him”, and so on — she did not want to get involved and testify.

In the Court’s opinion, according to a Court document, this contact with a potential witness was intentionally done to mislead Ms. Wolffe and prevent her from testifying and it almost succeeded; along with other documented attempts by defendants to pursue similar avenues, the question is how many people did they get to before they were stopped? Probably no one will ever know the answer to that.

As for evidence against Adam Lacerda, documents and witnesses plus his own testimony paint an unsympathetic picture of his character. Under oath on the stand he admitted to telling lie after lie after lie. He also admitted to using an alias, to using a spoofing device on his phone to change his voice and mask the number from which he was calling, among many other things. Also included in the evidence were statements made by several former employees asserting, under oath, that Adam wrote the sales script they were given and that he personally trained them to use it.

A compelling piece of evidence putting Adam’s fingerprints on the frauds and misrepresentations is an e-mail that recently came to light. The e-mail was sent to Adam and Ashley from the VO Financial in-house attorney, Joshua Gayl. The subject line said: “what happens if a potential client brings up the FBI or says VO Group is a scam?”

The response to that email was sent from Customer Care, which is controlled by the Lacerdas, and forwarded to Alan Lacerda, Ryan Klinger, Ian Resnick and Joshua Gayl with a note at the top that said: Get out to manager and reps. Train them on it:

The potential client says, “You’re from VO? I was scammed by VO Group. I sent them money. They scammed me.

DO NOT LIE. DO NOT RUN AWAY. DO NOT PUNT.

The email then showed several wrong answers to such questions from potential clients, followed by several (longer) right answers, all of which are designed to soothe and deceive. (Click on the image at the top of this page to see the document for yourself.)

As part of the evidence leading to the recent revocation of his bail, the Court cited Adam’s admission to being familiar with bank transfers, documentary evidence of fabricated communications and documents — more than enough to suggest that he’s capable of manufacturing false documents — as well as evidence that he impersonated bank officials. And then there’s the $190,000 in cash, which was found in a safe in the basement of his house when it was searched and his continued access to cash via VO Financial, a company he continued to operate until his bail was revoked (and perhaps still does, from jail?). All of those things plus the potential severity of the sentence if he should be found guilty and the fact that he and Ashley had used a chartered plane to visit Mexico within the last couple of years led to the Court’s decision that he was a serious flight risk. Consequently his bail was revoked and he was remanded into custody, joining his wife Ashley, Ian Resnick and Joseph DiVenti in the correctional facility for the remainder of the trial.

His defense attorney, and those of the other defendants, have done their best to put a better light on them and to poke holes in the Government’s case but they’ve had an uphill battle.

Will the complicated (sometimes boring) evidence supplied to prove the guilt of five defendants be enough to convince a jury? Or will they find something compelling in the defense case for a finding of not guilty (at least on some counts)?

Meanwhile, the trial continues today with more testimony. Both detractors and supporters of the various defendants will have to wait a little while longer for the outcome. The case is expected to go to the jury sometime next week.

© Copyright InsideTheGate.com 2013


Aug 27th, 2013 | Category: ALL NEWS HEADLINES, Legal Issues, Timeshare Fraud, USA & Canada | Tell a Friend Tell a Friend

56 comments
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  1. Just wanted to let you know, you have Ian Resnick down as Ian Lacerda here – “Those defendants are: Adam and Ashley Lacerda, (co-owners of both VO Group and its successor company VO Financial Corp.); Ian Lacerda (a close and loyal associate of the Lacerdas)”

  2. Big Oops. Thanks for the heads up. Typo fixed.

  3. this is the worst article, absolutely no information on the exact evidence, why is this email the smoking gun, what where the lies that were told? who is on the stand in defense of the defendants? If you are going to try to do an in depth report get some real information. If I was on the jury my biggest question would be “why if they did something wrong are they allowed to still be open for business? ” That would make it seem kinda like a witch hunt against these defendants.

  4. I think you’re doing a fine job…

  5. Hey, these guys are doing a fantastic job with keeping us all posted on these ‘scumbags’ I don’t know who you are but you are probably friends or family to these crooks. The jury has the case now so, let’s see where it goes from there. I, like most people believe in our jury system and we all will know the outcome very quickly. They have a mountain of evidence on each of them and I feel it will be a guilty verdict on all counts for all five of them. What do you think? Post your thoughts.

  6. Here’s an update for you all. Adam Lacerda testified on his own behalf on Aug. 15, 19 and 20 along with some witnesses for the defense. I see no evidence in the docket records that Ashley Lacerda testified.

    On the 26th several more witnesses for the defense were sworn in, including Alan Lacerda (Adam’s brother) and Ryan Klinger (Ashley’s brother). FBI agent John Mesisca was sworn at rebuttal and defense on cross examination.

    Also on the 26th, lawyers for both the defense and prosecution began submitting their Proposed Jury Instructions to the Judge. The trial itself was adjourned until today, Aug. 28, as a hearing before the judge was scheduled for the 27th to review “recent voluminous additional discovery documents” related to Ian Resnick and Joseph DiVenti. I don’t know what that’s all about.

    It looks like this case will definitely go to the jury no later than next week.

  7. Courthouse update….you have to be a friend to these cons. Witch hunt? Really? Recorded phone conversations, FBI agent posing as potential customer, thirteen former employees pleading guilty, services offered were either non-existent or a sophisticated bait and switch scheme, I could go on and on. Court document after court document with details on how this scam played out. As I have said before and will say again thanks to the conscientious reporting of the Gatekeeper and this publication informing the public may have saved innocent victims the loss of their money.

  8. The 13 other defendants pleaded guilty to 41-51 months in the pen. That means they will return home sometime in late 2018 The other 5 defendants currently on trial, if found guilty, will most likely get some very serious time. According to the federal sentencing guidelines, the owner and co-owners are looking at a minimum of 12 years the other 2 people a minimum of 7-years and the bank robber who tried to assist with flight instructions out of the country is looking at a minimum 10 years because of his criminal record. Goes to show you, crime dosent pay. Stay tuned.

  9. well they arent doing a very good job cause it says Ashley ‘s bond got revoked after a note was found…but guess what she is at her home with her daughter…so facts are NOT corrrect and how dare you call some one a scum bag that you dont know,And yes i am a family friend ashley is a very good person,great mom,and all around a sweet heart….walk a mile in some ones shoes before you judge…how about inosnt till proven guilty,yeah jurys are really great llok at casey antoney they did a fab job there,

  10. you said it best soooo many things they have gotton WRONG,I like getting updates fron the Gate but it would be nice if they were correct updates

  11. Update for you. The government started its closing arguments yesterday, concluding its summation today. This is being followed by closing statements from each of the five defense attorneys, which may run into tomorrow. THEN the judge will instruct the jury and the case will be handed over to them.

    And a CORRECTION: Apparently, after these two articles were written the Court decided to let Ashley Lacerda out on bail after all. She was released, under strong conditions, and is wearing a GPS ankle bracelet for the duration.

  12. All of the information provided here is correct updates straight from the words off of the court documents.

  13. Ashley is under house arrest GPS, no computer, phone etc etc. Only reason she is not behind bars is that she is addicted to drugs and is in withdrawal. Let me guess… if the jury returns a guilty verdict people like you will be saying the jury was corrupted by the FBI blah blah blah. I can just hear it now. Face the facts get real.

  14. What an asshole this Lacerda guy is to let his wife go through this. A real husband would have taken all the heat for his wife whether she is guilty or not.

  15. I don’t understand how 225 and 13 former employees testified against vo group so fast ?

  16. Only a few “victims” testified, like 1, 2 or 3 for each defendant I think, and not all 13 former employees testified, just some of them.

  17. Admin, can you tell us specifically which of the 13 who pleaded guilty testified?

  18. Wow! They scammed that many people? They promised me they could force Wyndam to take back our timeshare for $8600 Once I gave them my money I never heard back from them in months but when the FBI got involved, they tefunded me all my money.

  19. Wow .. They just all of sudden called and gave you your money back. Are you part of the 225 people. Did you actually talk to any one of these people

  20. Money laundering charges against the Lacerdas have been dropped. Here’s what U.S. Attorney Fishman filed today:

    Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 48(a) and by leave of Court endorsed hereon, Paul J. Fishman, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, hereby dismisses the following counts of the Superseding Indictment No. 12-303, filed on January 23, 2013: Counts 21, 30, and 31, charging Ashley R. Lacerda with violations of 18 U.S.C. 1343 and 18 U.S.C. 2; Count 35, charging Adam Lacerda and Ashley R. Lacerda with conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1956(h); Counts 36 through 39, charging Adam Lacerda and Ashley R. Lacerda with money laundering in violation of 18 US.S.C. 1957(a) and 18 U.S.C. 2; and Count 40, charging Adam Lacerda with violations of 18 U.S.C. 1341 AND 18 U.S.C. 2.

    This dismissal is with prejudice.

    Note that yesterday, the 29th, a hearing was held on an oral motion by defendants’ counsel to dismiss money laundering counts. The above dismissal was filed today (awaiting the Judge’s signature)

    The jury comes back to court on Tuesday, Sept. 3

  21. A total of 36 witnesses testified for the prosecution.

  22. The following of the thirteen who pleaded guilty testified for the prosecution; Jeffrey Sawyer, Ryan Bird, Brian Corley, Aimee Allen, Alfred Giordano, and Vincent Giordano.

  23. It sounds like the US Attorney Fishman feels he dosent need those addition counts to get the guilty verdict the Government is looking for. Maybe they are setting up a plea agreement with all 5 of them right now as we speak. You never know. If they are found NOT GUILTY on everything will the 13 that pleaded guilty still have to go to the slammer? There’s a lot of questions that remain unanswered. All 5 defendants must be biting their fingernails right about now. They may get very lucky like George Zimmerman did, you never know. They may get completely off. ‘NOT GUILTY’ verdict.

    Last question, I don’t understand why the FBI is still allowing the vo financial was to continue operating if the have all this evidence on them ripping old people off. I just don’t get it. It really makes me wonder if the FBI is getting paid off, just letting them dig a deeper hole, is still investigating others in the company so they have to face criminal charges or what. I really just don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to us better. Let us know your thoughts.

  24. omg

  25. They may get LUCKY? Ever consider they may be INNOCENT? They are INNOCENT till PROVEN gulity…maybe those that plead gulity were just running scared? hmmmm? Maybe they are thr rogue employees that are gulty afterall?
    Biting nails? Nah, not if in their hearts of hearts they know they are innocent.

  26. Thought you were a friend? Jenn from MB??? Hmmmm

  27. Zimmerman and this case have no simalarities.

    BTW, Treyvon was carrying watermelon drink and skittles. Try googling that combination…

  28. I don’t understand why the FBI is still allowing the vo financial was to continue operating if the have all this evidence on them ripping old people off

    Jenn, VO Financial is not on trial in this case and to the best of my knowledge the Government (State or Federal) has not filed charges against that company or taken any steps at this point to shut the company down. Until/unless something like that happens VO Financial has every legal right to stay open. The charges against the Lacerdas et al are relevant to when they operated VO Group, not VO Financial.

    There are several civil lawsuits pending against VO Financial (and the Lacerdas) which must add to some amount of financial stress related to legal fees, but nothing in the criminal realm that I’m aware of at this time.

  29. I am sure that they will shut their business down if and when they are convicted. How could they leave it open to continue to scam people??? Joshuatree the rogue employee lie did not stand up in court. If they believe they are innocent they are crazier than they look. The drugs? Sociopathic personality? Then of course there is Ian Resnick the convicted armed bank robber who is a close personal friend of the Lacerda’s. Give me a break. And by the way people like this who steal $3 million dollars and put it on their own backs don’t have a heart!!! Sickening.

  30. Just trying to look from both sides. I mean in the USA you are innocent till PROVEN guilty. I’m not saying they are all angels, but they could be innocent of some charges.

  31. Yes, but let’s not forget Adam was caught wanting to leave the country. Or how about the letter to Ashley telling her to flee the country to “save them all”?… that shows, at this point, that at least a few of them are getting a tad concerned. So with that, do you really believe that they believe they’re innocent?

  32. How can anyone assume they are GUILTY? I see there is a lot of hateraid going on here. Are some of you just jealous because you don’t know how to make money. I give Adam and Ashley a lot of credit for opening a company to help time-share customers. No one ever talks about how many people the flagship time-share stole money from for years and still doing it. Just saying.

  33. Funny how some spew here, but when asked a direct question they dissapeR. Well Jenn from Myrtle Beach, wasnt Ashley and her family ALWAYS there for YOU?. Wow amazing to me you publicly tradh them. Hello to your Dad. Hmmm. Just amazing. People like you disqust me.

  34. @courthouse:

    Did you even PEEK at the 69-page investigation report issued by the US Attorney? “Witch hunt”??? How long have you worked for VO, anyhow?

  35. I taught I taw a puddy tat hahahahaha

  36. I think you are talking about the wrong Jenn sweetheart.

  37. You have the wrong Jenn sweetheart

  38. Hi Atlantic City Group! Forgive me if I am wrong (but I know I am not) there is a DISTINCT difference between EARNING money and STEALING it. Most people work hard to earn a living and don’t have the criminal mindset to perpetrate a scam. Guess some people are born with a criminal mind and inherit it? Flagship employees are not in jail waiting to see if a jury convicts them of felony charges like VO Financial owners Adam and Ashley Lacerda. So… your point is ridiculous and there is no valid comparison here.

  39. Read it carefully incredulous and understand that the evidence is clear the Lacerda’s are guilty of scamming innocent victims out of $3 million and thought they would get away with it… too bad looks like do the crime do the time.

  40. I agree they are all assholes.

  41. Gatekeeper do you have any new updates? Verdict please.

  42. I am far from being a sweetheart!
    Let’s all see what the jury says. The jury was there every single day, they are more informed than any one of us. We’re all coming from different experiences with the VO Group and have biased opinions. The JURY will decide and we then need to accept.
    How long do you think it will take?

  43. They are not CLOSE to a verdict. Mayb e next week

  44. So there SS you think you know these people better than we do? Hmmmm

  45. Oh how we sit and ponder the minds of those who take from others. I have pondered, I have wondered, I have knelt beneath my willow tree contemplating the wonders of these folks up North. Being born and raised in the back woods these atrocity’s spin me for a loop. Will they present those w/o some cash fir deeds done wrong?

  46. I am a monk.

  47. Joshuatree, how do you know.

  48. Whatever, they will ALL get found not guilty. That’s just the way our system works. I got some inside information you would love to have. Money talk. LOL

  49. I think it will take till Fri late evening.

  50. Yea right.

  51. I really think these people are 100% guilty. My reason for feeling that way is simple.
    Time shares are nothing but a huge scam that’s been going in since the 1950′s
    Oh well.

  52. VO Group Verdict.

    Adam Lacerda ‘Guilty’ on ALL counts

    Ashley Lacerda ‘Guilty’ on all counts

    Genevieve Manzoni ‘Guilty’ on ALL counts except one

    Ian Resnick ‘Guilty’ on ALL counts.

    Sentencing dates.

    Adam and Ashley 12-12-2013

    Genevieve and Ian 12-13-2013

    They all face a minimum of 120 to 240 months
    according to the federal sentencing guidelines… Look it up.

  53. Phiily.com breaking news. Deliberated only 4 hours.

  54. You guys beat me to it! That took a lot less time than I expected. The evidence must have been very convincing, and the witnesses for the defense not very convincing at all. Whew!

    Joseph DiVenti was acquitted on all 3 counts.

    Adam Lacerda convicted on 13 counts

    Ashley Lacerda convicted on 6 counts

    Ian Resnick convicted on 7 counts

    Genevieve Manzoni convicted on 2 counts, acquitted on 1 count of wire fraud.

  55. I believe they actually deliberated for two days, plus their deliberations today.

  56. But lets not forget, he was not going to flee the country, and neither was Ashley. I can promise you that. I was at that trial, every single day. You are obviously unsure of what youre talking about.