March 16, 2010

Investment trickery leads to theft, fraud, prisonCONTINUED FROM THE FRONT PAGE/OBITUARIES

TREVOR MAXWELL

— By

Staff Writer

The real estate deal was a sure winner, Jonathan Carroll Rosenbloom told an acquaintance back in 2006.

There was a property in Italy they could buy and resell for double the money. Rosenbloom said he had an inside tip that the Italian government wanted to acquire the property and run a highway through it.

One investor went in for $50,000. Rosenbloom then took $109,000 from another investor for different real estate deals.

Problem was, there were no properties. There was no highway plan. And Rosenbloom was spending the money on personal travel, restaurant tabs, shopping and other expenses.

On Friday, two years after carrying out the con, Rosenbloom pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge, admitting the scheme to Justice Thomas Warren in Cumberland County Superior Court. He could face up to four years in prison.

''In fact, he did not have inside information about real estate in Italy,'' said Michael Colleran, the assistant attorney general who handled the case. ''He also failed to disclose that he had a grand larceny conviction from New York. It was an investment fraud case.''

Rosenbloom, 49, also pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of securities fraud. He took money from three women after telling them he was a successful day trader, and that he would invest with them in an E-Trade Financial account. Just as he did in the real estate scheme, Rosenbloom never invested the money, using it for personal expenses instead.

The total amount stolen, through both schemes in Maine, was $205,000.

Rosenbloom, who was represented by Portland lawyer James Bushell, accepted a plea offer. Colleran recommended a prison sentence of up to four years, followed by three years of probation. The prosecutor agreed to lower the recommendation to a sentence of up to two years if Rosenbloom repays his victims. The restitution would have to be made before Rosenbloom is sentenced, which could happen as soon as September.

Bushell asked Warren to order a psychological test of Rosenbloom, saying he believes his client may suffer from a disorder that might explain his pattern of lies. Bushell could use an opinion from an independent doctor to request lenience at the sentencing.

''It became pretty apparent that Mr. Rosenbloom has a problem with misrepresentation. There is something that is very compulsive,'' Bushell said. Warren did not rule immediately on the request.

Rosenbloom is a member of a well-known family in the sports world. His uncle and namesake, Carroll Rosenbloom, was a legendary owner of two professional football teams -- the Baltimore Colts and the Los Angeles Rams. Carroll Rosenbloom was married to Georgia Frontiere, who took over the Rams franchise after Rosenbloom drowned while swimming off the Florida coast in 1979.

In the early 1990s, Jonathan Rosenbloom worked as a chef at the Troutbeck resort in Amenia, N.Y. He got the owners of the resort and other acquaintances there to invest $200,000 in a dessert company he created, Il Grifo Inc., according to reports in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Instead of putting the money toward his business, Rosenbloom moved his wife and three children to Italy around 1995. He was indicted for theft in 1996 in New York's Dutchess County, but was already out of the country. In 2001, Rosenbloom was arrested as a fugitive from justice when he went to Florida to visit his mother. He repaid the would-be investors and was sentenced to the three months he had served in the county jail.

Rosenbloom apparently moved to Maine by himself in 2004, where he lived in several communities, including Falmouth and South Portland. In late 2005 and early 2006, he wrote an online column about wine -- called Cellar Dweller -- for Mainetoday.com, a division of Blethen Maine Newspapers, publisher of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He used the name J.C. Rosenbloom and described himself as a chef, consultant and writer.

The state Attorney General's Office investigated Rosenbloom after receiving complaints from alleged victims. Last August, a grand jury in Cumberland County indicted Rosenbloom for theft and securities fraud.

He was free on bail last fall, and one of the conditions was not to leave the state. But on Jan. 6, he was arrested in Lebanon Township, N.J., where he had driven to watch his son perform in a high school play. His ex-wife called police because he owed more than $100,000 in child support payments, according to court documents.

Warren revoked Rosenbloom's bail in February. He continues to be held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

tmaxwell@pressherald.com

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