A Florida man will serve two years in federal prison for tricking investors into giving him almost $1million so he could sell a wine-in-a-cup product featured on the hit TV show Shark Tank, but instead used to pay off his home mortgage.
Joseph Falcone, 60, of Rockledge, Florida, appeared in federal court in Central Islip, New York, on Friday.
United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein sentenced Falcone to 24 months behind bars for wire fraud.
Falcone, a former Long Island-based wine and liquor distributor, was also ordered to pay $1.8million in restitution to seven investors from whom he stole money.
A 60-year-old Florida resident was sentenced to two years in federal prison by a US district court judge on Long Island on Friday for defrauding investors out of nearly $1million. The investors were led to believe they were helping the man sell a ‘wine-in-a-cup’ product, Copa di Vino
Copa di Vino gained nationwide attention after the product was featured on the hit investor reality show Shark Tank in 2014. The show’s panelists are seen from left: Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and Robert Herjavec
The company founder, James Martin, appeared twice on Shark Tank to pitch his product, but could not come to an agreement with O’Leary on separating the patent for the container from the process of bottling the wine
In June 2019, Falcone admitted in court to concocting a scheme to defraud investors who were led to believe that they were buying into a plan to sell single-serving, sealed plastic glasses of wine, according to Newsday.
The product in question is Copa di Vino, an Oregon-based company that gained nationwide attention after its founder appeared on the popular investor reality show Shark Tank in 2014.
Copa di Vino is an ‘on-the-go’ product in which customers drink wine from a patented, glass-like container made out of recycled plastic.
The cup has a pull-off and resealable lid that allows consumers to drink the wine at their own pace.
The company founder, James Martin, appeared twice on Shark Tank to pitch his product to the panel of wealthy investors, including Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, and Daymond John.
O’Leary expressed interest in partnering with Martin, but the two could not agree on separating the patent for the container from the process of bottling the wine.
Even though he did not get any funding from the sharks, Martin managed to turn a significant profit as sales of his product exploded after his appearance on the show.
Martin then returned to the show a second time, but once again turned down O’Leary’s offer to invest in his company after the two disagreed on the same point that led to their impasse the previous time around.
Between September 2014 and November 2015, Falcone raised $872,000 from several unidentified investors who gave the money to his company, 3G’s VINO, which was based in Bethpage, New York.
Falcone told investors that he would use the money to expand his business operations that would include the sale and distribution of Copa di Vino.
Instead of using the money to help the investors turn a profit, Falcone confessed to spending $527,000 of the cash he raised to buy himself a house in Florida and trade online in securities.
‘Falcone’s victims were reeled in by his ‘Shark Tank’ pitch, but with today’s sentence, the defendant is now squarely on the hook for his crimes,’ Seth DuCharme, the acting US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said on Friday.
‘This Office remains committed to prosecuting those who mislead the public and abuse the trust placed in them to engage in fraud against their own investors.’
Copa di Vino has not been accused of any wrongdoing. DailyMail.com has reached out to the company for comment.