Suspect Arrested in Cryptocurrency Investment Fraud Targeting First Responders

For Immediate Release: August 24, 2023

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
J. Stephen Ferketic, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Dan Prochilo

TRENTON — The Attorney General’s Office today announced that a retired state Department of Corrections Lieutenant from Atlantic County has been arrested, after allegedly targeting and defrauding first responders he convinced to invest in a purported new cryptocurrency investment fund.

John A. DeSalvo, 47, of Linwood, a former resident of Marmora, N.J., was arrested on August 23, 2023, by investigators from the state Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The charges stem from an investigation by the Cybercrimes Unit of DCJ, the New Jersey Division of Taxation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the FBI, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

During the course of the investigation, it was learned that DeSalvo, who retired from the Department of Corrections on May 1, 2010, marketed to his victims a cryptocurrency token he called Blazar, representing to prospective investors that their returns from it would supplement the New Jersey pension system. However, this token did not have any real value. The victims relied upon deceptive representations made by DeSalvo and provided him with money for investment purposes. In reality, DeSalvo profited from the capital raised by the victims, who would not have provided him with money if they were aware that the token had no value.

“This defendant allegedly used his position as a former law enforcement officer to win the trust of investors and to victimize fellow first responders,” said First Assistant Attorney General Lyndsay V. Ruotolo. “The allegations are that he intentionally targeted people who dedicate their lives to public service and risk their lives for the public good.”

“John DeSalvo allegedly embellished how much his investors stood to gain and falsely guaranteed inflated returns,” said Director of the Division of Criminal Justice J. Stephen Ferketic. “Today’s arrest demonstrates that the men and women of the Division of Criminal Justice are committed to protecting the people of New Jersey from fraudulent investment schemes like the one alleged in this case.”

DeSalvo is facing the following charges:

  • Theft by Deception— 2nd Degree
  • Deceptive Business Practices — 4th degree

Convictions on second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The investigation was led by Detective Charles Pusloski and Detective John Luko.

of the Cybercrimes Unit of DCJ and Special Agent Jamie McMahon of the FBI, with valuable support from the U.S. Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Michael J. Forte of the Cybercrimes Unit, under the supervision of Unit Deputy Chief Lisa Rastelli, Chief Jillian Carpenter, DCJ Deputy Director Derek Nececkas, and DCJ Director J. Stephen Ferketic.

Investigators urge anyone who may have been a victim of this defendant’s alleged scam to contact the Division of Criminal Justice by calling 1-800-396-2310.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

Defense counsel: None listed at this time.


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