TWO CHARGED WITH FLEECING ELITE’S MODELS
Byline: Rich Wilner
NEW YORK — Two men were charged Monday with posing as investment advisers and fleecing more than a dozen models out of a total of more than $1 million.
The men, David Weil and Peter Bucchieri, ran an allegedly phony investment company, Star Capital Management Inc., for 2 1/2 years, much of that time from offices within the Eastside Manhattan headquarters of Elite Model Management Corp., according to New York State Attorney General Dennis Vacco, who filed the charges Monday.
Elite, whose models represented most of Star’s clients, was not charged with any crime. The models’ names were not released by the Attorney General.
Monique Pillard, president and an owner of Elite, told WWD Monday that she knew very little about the case but that she was “glad they were arrested.”
“They did bad things to the models,” said Pillard, who claimed she, too, was fleeced by the two. While Pillard declined to give a specific figure, she said she lost less than $100,000.
The 26 felony charges against Weil includes one count of rape. Vacco charged that in October 1992, in the early stages of the alleged scam, Weil raped a 15-year-old model. Weil, arrested Monday, will be arraigned today in Manhattan Criminal Court. He faces 36 to 107 years if convicted on all counts.
Bucchieri, now a resident of Las Vegas, is expected to surrender to authorities within two weeks, a spokesman for Vacco said. He is charged with seven felony counts and faces 12 1/3 to 37 years if convicted on all counts.
“Star Capital managed the models’ bank accounts, paid their bills and offered investment advice,” Vacco said at a noontime press conference. “Ultimately, [they] helped themselves to the models’ savings, transferring without authority large sums from model accounts to Star and then diverting it for their own purpose.”
In one case, Weil obtained a $28,000 bank check from a model’s account and then sent it to the IRS to pay his own taxes, scribbling his own Social Security number onto the check, Vacco said.
Vacco said Weil held himself out to be a lawyer, accountant and stockbroker when in fact he was none of these. The scam, according to the charges, ran until January.
Although most of the models allegedly fleeced by the pair were from Elite, other models were from Wilhelmina, Ford and Women agencies, said a Vacco spokesman. He said as many as 30 models could be involved in the continuing investigation.
— Fairchild News Service