Las Vegas Travel Agent Charged in White Plains Federal Court with Defrauding Westechester Youth in Connection with Travel to World Youth Day 2016 in Poland

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Las Vegas Travel Agent Charged in White Plains Federal Court with Defrauding Westechester Youth in Connection with Travel to World Youth Day 2016 in Poland

September 23, 2017 - 11:58

Las Vegas Travel Agent Charged in White Plains Federal Court with Defrauding Westechester Youth in Connection with Travel to World Youth Day 2016 in Poland

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WHITE PLAINS, NY -- Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Phillip R. Bartlett, the Inspector in Charge of the New York Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint charging VINCENT MAFFUCCI with mail fraud.  The charge arises from an alleged fraudulent scheme whereby MAFFUCCI, a Las Vegas-based travel agent, collected over $240,000 from various parishes, including numerous parishes in and around Westchester County, New York, in connection with a tour he had organized to Europe for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day in July and August 2016.  Rather than use the money to pay for trip-related expenses, however, MAFFUCCI used more than $220,000 of the funds for his own personal expenses.  MAFFUCCI was arrested this morning, and will be presented today before a United States Magistrate Judge, in the United States Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Vincent Maffucci, a travel agent, allegedly collected over $240,000 from Westchester parishes, purportedly to organize a young people’s church tour to Europe.  Instead of arranging the trip, Maffucci allegedly pocketed nearly all of the money and spent it on himself.  Now Maffucci will face justice in federal court.”

USPIS Inspector in Charge Phillip R. Bartlett said:  “Mr. Maffucci allegedly capitalized on the trust these organizations placed with him to get their youth to this faith-filled world event.  He betrayed the trust of the faith community when he allegedly spent money to satisfy his personal needs, then lied about their refunds.  Mr. Maffucci, however, got his first taste of karma when Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners uncovered his alleged faithless crimes, placed him under arrest and brought him before a Federal Magistrate Judge to answer to fraud charges.”

As alleged in the Complaint unsealed today in White Plains federal court[1]:

Every approximately two to three years, the Catholic Church organizes World Youth Day, an event for young people.  Each World Youth Day is held in a different global location and attended by young people from around the world, including many people from Westchester County.  World Youth Day (“WYD”) 2016 was held in Krakow, Poland.

Several parishes in and around Westchester County, New York, used a travel agency known as ITC Tours to organize their parishes’ WYD 2016 trips.  VINCENT MAFFUCCI, the defendant, was the owner of ITC Tours and the person with whom the parishes dealt.  In connection with the trip, MAFFUCCI provided a printed brochure, including an itinerary and a list of the various services provided in connection with the tour.  Among other things, the tour was to include: “[r]ound trip airfare from JFK to Berlin returning from Budapest”; “Good 3 star hotels for 11 nights”; “Continental breakfast daily and 10 three course dinners”; “Entrance fees during sightseeing tours”; and “WYD and Solidarity fees estimated at $175.00 per person.”  The brochure lists the “[c]ost per person” as “Triple $2919 Twin $3072 Single $3515.”

From in or about March 2014 until in or about June 2016, numerous parishes, including several in Westchester County, New York, sent, via Federal Express and United States mail, checks totaling approximately $240,000 to MAFFUCCI in Las Vegas, Nevada, as payment for their respective parishes’ tour participants.  

Of the more than $240,000 MAFFUCCI collected for the WYD 2016 trip, he spent only $11,226 on the trip.  MAFFUCCI used the remaining funds for his own personal expenses.  Specifically, during the time period MAFFUCCI was soliciting and receiving checks for WYD 2016, he spent approximately $43,000 of the funds on dining, fuel, and clothing.  In addition, MAFFUCCI withdrew over $94,000 in cash, and made transfers totaling over $83,000 to other bank accounts that he controlled.

In June 2016, the month before the WYD 2016 trip was to take place, MAFFUCCI cancelled the tour, citing, among other reasons, concerns about terrorism.  MAFFUCCI promised full refunds to those who had already paid.  To date, most of the tour participants have not received refunds from MAFFUCCI. 

MAFFUCCI was arrested this morning and will be presented in federal court in Las Vegas before United States Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman. 

MAFFUCCI, 77, of Las Vegas, Nevada, is charged with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Office’s criminal investigators.  He also thanked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Martin is in charge of the prosecution.