Adams, N.Y. — Joseph A. Pompo did not need to sell cars at Fuccillo Auto Group to help the dealership chain make money.
Pompo, an accountant by trade, used his penchant for numbers in his work for the well-known Upstate New York car dealer — until state police accused him of using that same financial savvy to bilk the Fuccillos out of more than $1 million, according to court records.
Pompo, 31, was charged Friday with first-degree grand larceny, a felony. A state police investigator said in court records Pompo stole $1,119,794.02 from Fuccillo from January through December 2020.
As the dealership group’s director of taxation and finance, Pompo, 31, handled Fuccillo’s “reinsurance” business. (It is common for car dealerships to have separate, reinsurance companies, through which they provide warranties and other consumer benefits and protections. The companies also make money from the reinsurance premiums.)
Pompo’s financial expertise had further benefitted the company, too.
Last year, he helped Fuccillo uncover a fraud scheme that had cost the dealership chain millions of dollars, Pompo told an automotive trade publication. His work helped the dealership group recover $3.5 million in a settlement.
By his own telling, Pompo’s discovery that the third-party had overcharged Fuccillo by several million dollars boosted his standing within the company.
Soon after, he was “awarded oversight” of the finance and insurance department, according to a “40 under 40″ profile in the trade publication.
Now, the same employee who passionately defended the local business known across the state for its commercials stands accused of defrauding that same company out of a million dollars.
Court documents, including signed affidavits from founder Billy Fuccillo Sr., his son William and the company’s chief financial officer, detail what police say was a year-long scheme to defraud the automotive business. A woman who answered the phone at Fuccillo Auto Group in Adams said the company declined to comment.
In statements filed in court, Fuccillo company officials claim that Pompo forged founder Billy Fuccillo Sr.’s signature multiple times, without his permission, in order to authorize himself to set up a new company, New Freedom Reinsurance 6 Inc.
Pompo paid himself through that company, police said. Court documents show Pompo and his wife, as board directors for New Freedom, signed documents agreeing to pay Pompo almost $33,000 in April.
In an interview with Syracuse.com | The Post-Standard, Pompo said Fuccillo Sr. agreed to the arrangement, that it was legal and even necessary to meet industry regulations.
Pompo said that it was part of his job responsibilities to set up and handle Billy Fuccillo Sr.’s reinsurance arrangement.
“If I didn’t have authority to conduct business on his behalf, he wouldn’t have a $4 million reinsurance business right now,” Pompo said.
Pompo declined to discuss the arrangement or criminal case in further detail but said he believes the charge against him will be dropped when he has a chance to defend himself in court.
In an affadivit, Fuccillo Sr. repeatedly and adamantly refuted the idea that he would agree to give Pompo authority to do what he did. Fuccillo Sr. argues he would not essentially allow Pompo to make $1 million through reinsurance that Fuccillo could have otherwise made himself.
According to court records, Pompo worked for the Fuccillo Auto Group for about two years.
William Fuccillo Jr. wrote in an affidavit that Pompo targeted the family and their business at a vulnerable time. Fuccillo Sr. was hospitalized at the time one signature was forged, according to the affidavit.
Fuccillo Jr. writes that the timing, and Pompo’s knowledge of the elder Fuccillo’s health problems, was “abhorrent.”
Though Pompo was relatively new to working in automotive retail, it’s clear he took on a large role in the company.
In an interview with a trade publication, Pompo said he restructured the finance department, and designed an incentive program using stimulus money from the Paycheck Protection Program, to help the business through the most challenging part of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the “40 under 40″ article, Pompo said he followed his father into accounting, and worked in his family’s business before taking the job with Fuccillo.
Pompo played lacrosse at West Genesee High School, the University at Albany and eventually the College of Saint Rose, where he earned his MBA before passing his certified public accountant’s exam.
Contact Julie McMahon: Email | Twitter | 315-412-1992. Staff writer Samantha House covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, a story idea, a question or a comment? Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.