FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — A Shelton man pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding the owners of Stamford Twin Rinks, where he worked as general manager, of nearly a half-million dollars, prosecutors said.
Mark J. Zito, 55, waived his right to be indicted before Chief U.S. District Judge Janet Hall in New Haven and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John H. Durham said.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from October 1999 to August 2014, Zito was general manager at Twin Rinks, which is owned and operated by RivCan Associates.
Zito was responsible for managing and overseeing the ice skating facility’s operations, and he had a written contract with RivCan to be paid commissions for securing agreements from third party vendors to place advertising at the rink. He then created and used AAZ Consulting, an unincorporated entity controlled by him, to bill RivCan for these commissions.
During his employment, Zito submitted to RivCan numerous fraudulent invoices, primarily for services that RivCan neither requested nor authorized, or for commissions that were either fraudulent or grossly inflated.
As general manager, Zito approved the payment of these invoices and directed his subordinates to issue him checks payable to AAZ Consulting.
The total loss from his illegal conduct totaled $490,468.81, prosecutors said. That includes funds he received by claiming payments for purportedly maintaining and updating the rink’s website, and through unauthorized benefits in the form of excess salary payments, excess vacation pay, and cellphone reimbursements.
When sentenced March 19, Zito faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. He is released on bond pending sentencing.
The matter has been investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Stamford Police Department, Connecticut State Police, and Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen.
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