Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the arrest of Patrick Panettieri, 63, and his wife, Joanne Panettieri, 59, for allegedly defrauding approximately 100 Asian immigrant families out of thousands of dollars which they paid in tuition at schools run by the defendants to learn English as a Second Language.
The defendants are charged with suddenly closing down the schools and fleeing with their victims’ money. The couple was arrested on Friday August 30 in Syracuse. They are charged with Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, Petit Larceny, and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. They were arraigned on August 30 in Brooklyn Criminal Court, and bail was set for each defendant at $150,000. If convicted, they each face up to four years in prison.
District Attorney Hynes said, “The victims in this case paid, with their hard-earned money, to learn the English language. This was not a real school, but it was a fraud. The defendants were selling a product that did not exist. I want to commend my detectives and I want to thank the detective investigators from the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office and members of the Brooklyn Chinese American Association, who provided us resources and assisted us in the apprehension of the defendants.”
Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said: "For 22 years, District Attorney Joe Hynes and I have worked together as colleagues developing innovative programs on both the state and national level. We have also worked together on cases that have overlapped our jurisdictions. I am pleased that my office was able to assist Kings County in locating and arresting Patrick and Joanne Panettieri. My office and staff will continue a collaborative partnership with Joe and his staff to ensure justice for the the citizens of both our counties."