Alleged Ponzi schemer still trying to build in New Jersey

Cesar Pina seeking approval for 61-unit residential conversion of school

Alleged Ponzi Schemer Still Trying to Build in New Jersey
DJ Envy, 385-391 Totowa Avenue in Paterson NJ and Cesar Pina (Getty, Google Maps)

Development is hard enough without fraud accusations hovering overhead. Nevertheless, Cesar Pina persists.

The maligned social media influencer is applying to convert a vacant school building in Paterson, New Jersey, into a 61-unit apartment complex, NorthJersey.com reported. One of his affiliates is due to appear before Paterson Board of Adjustment on Thursday, though it’s unclear if Pina will himself appear.

Pina’s plan is to add three stories atop the three-story school building at 385-391 Totowa Avenue, then place 10 apartments on each of the floors (and one in the basement for the superintendent). There are also 40 parking spaces in the proposal, fewer than half of the city’s requirement for a development of its size.

Pina purchased the property from the Paterson Board of Education in 2018 for $1 million, receiving $100,000 from education officials to remove furniture and debris. Since then, there’s been little activity at the site.

City officials are skeptical of Pina’s ability to develop the project, suggesting an approval of his plan may raise the value of the property ahead of a sale.

The development is probably not Pina’s first priority. Last month, he was arrested for allegedly engaging in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He was charged with one count of wire fraud and released on $1 million bond.

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In 2017, Pina began taking investments from alleged victims to purchase, remodel and sell real estate projects in New Jersey, according to the Department of Justice. He allegedly promised quick and massive returns, but instead used additional investments to pay prior victims and spend lavishly on himself.

Pina faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The allegations have also dragged in Power 105.1’s DJ Envy due to real estate seminars he partnered with Pina on.

While four locations of Pina’s alleged misdeeds are mentioned in his federal complaint, the school conversion site is not one of them.

Holden Walter-Warner

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