By Jonathan Shugarts, Republican-American
WATERBURY — Two people from Meriden are facing felony larceny charges after state police say they extorted tens of thousands of dollars from a Prospect couple by convincing them they were connected to the mafia.
One of the victims told police his wife had cashed in her retirement accounts to give Anthony Cordero, 51, more than $700,000. According to state police, Jacqueline Rivera, 52, aided in the theft.
State police alleged in Rivera’s arrest warrant that in 2015 a then-80-year-old Prospect man told investigators his wife, who was 74 at the time and worked as a real estate agent, had given a man she knew as “Antonio Antonelli” cash for a real estate deal in 2012. The man she knew as “Antonelli” had posed as a buyer for a property, the woman’s husband told police.
At some point, that deal led the woman to give cash to “Antonelli” after he began threatening her, the man told police. She cleaned out $200,000 from a retirement account and also gave “Antonelli” more than $400,000 of her husband’s money, the man told police.
It turned out that “Antonelli,” who police later identified as Cordero, had convinced the woman he was connected to the mafia and if she didn’t continue to supply him with cash, a “contract” would be placed on her and her husband.
State police were provided with a download of the woman’s text messages that were allegedly between her and Cordero, as well as her and Rivera.
“There is a contract now,” one message that was sent to the woman read. “They told me: bye, bye, bye.”
The money was transferred to the conman either through wire transfers or it was given to a person in Meriden who later delivered it, the victim told police.
Investigators reviewed the text messages finding that Rivera had “facilitated” the transfer of money, according to her arrest warrant.
The woman declined to give a written statement to police about the extortion attempt, but would later tell them the threats had started in 2014 and she was scared for her life. She continued to communicate with the man she knew as “Antonelli” in the hopes she would recover some of the money she sent him.
Police used records from Western Union and MoneyGram to trace about 200 wire transfers totaling more than $85,000 from the victimized couple to Cordero and Rivera.
Cordero and Rivera were arrested in late January. Cordero was charged with first-degree larceny by extortion and threatening, while Rivera was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny by extortion.
Cordero remains jailed on a $250,000 bond, while Rivera posted a $25,000 bond. Cordero is due in court later this month. Rivera’s next court date is in April. It’s unclear if they have attorneys.
An obituary shows the man who initially brought the extortion allegations to police died in 2018.