Impressive hire at first, now facing fraud charge

Billy Fuccillo Jr. told Automotive News in June that employee Joseph Pompo brought a fresh perspective to Fuccillo Automotive Group.

“He’s really supercharged the way we do reinsurance,” Fuccillo Jr., president of the Syracuse, N.Y., dealership group, said then. “He’s really opened our eyes to a new profit center.”

Shortly after his 2018 hiring, Pompo made his mark when he combed through the retailer’s books and found discrepancies between service contract profits and the number of contracts sold. He determined the group was being overcharged by a third-party administrator, which settled with Fuccillo for $3.5 million.

Now Pompo, 31, stands accused of fraud. He was arrested last month and charged with grand larceny of the first degree for allegedly stealing more than $1 million in Fuccillo Automotive money via a reinsurance company formed without his employer’s consent. The class B felony carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Pompo and Fuccillo Jr. spoke to Automotive News last summer when Pompo, the dealership group’s corporate director of finance, reinsurance and taxation, was named an Automotive News 40 Under 40 honoree for 2020. Neither provided comment on the charge for this article.

New York State Police Trooper Jack Keller said the dealership group’s lawyers reported to authorities in December that Pompo had established the company, named New Freedom Reinsurance 6 Co. Inc., without the consent of owners Billy Fuccillo and Fuccillo Jr.

“They were advised through their bank accounts that he withdrew over $30,000 as dividends earned through the company,” Keller told Automotive News. “He somehow forged the signatures of Billy Fuccillo Jr. and Billy Fuccillo Sr. without their permission or knowledge.”

Fuccillo lawyers told police that paperwork was discovered naming Pompo as the president and sole beneficiary of the reinsurance company, Keller said.

Pompo asserted his innocence in a LinkedIn post last week and described an “avalanche of support” he had received since the announcement of his arrest, including messages from “over 40 current employees” of Fuccillo Automotive Group.

Pompo told Automotive News he could not talk about the charge before it is resolved but made reference to social media posts where he denies the accusations.

“Those who know me know that I have based my career on rooting out the bad actors in the business world,” Pompo wrote on LinkedIn. “I fully and completely deny the baseless allegation made against me.”

He added: “I look forward to speaking publicly about the reasons I am being targeted by someone who, in my opinion, will use any means necessary to achieve a desired outcome — including the media and legal system.”

Pompo didn’t elaborate on what he meant by that, nor did he present any evidence.

Documents filed in Watertown City Court include a letter purportedly sent from Billy Fuccillo to Smart Autocare, authorizing Pompo to act “with full agency” as director of an internal reinsurance company. Other filings include affidavits signed by Fuccillo and Fuccillo Jr. saying Pompo sent those letters without their authorization.

“While the ‘signature’ in the letter is a copy of my father’s signature, it is certainly not an original,” Fuccillo Jr.’s affidavit read.

Another exhibit: a document approving a dividend payment of $32,913.75 signed April 1, 2020, by two directors for New Freedom Reinsurance 6 Co. Inc. — Pompo and his wife, Adrienne Pompo.

Joseph Pompo told Automotive News last summer that his wife was a childhood friend of Fuccillo Jr. and that Pompo went to high school with him.

Before starting in auto retail, Pompo was a corporate accountant at PwC in Buffalo, N.Y., where he spent two years auditing large corporations. He later joined his father’s firm, F.J. Pompo & Co.

In his application for the 40 Under 40 program, Pompo said his ideal career path in automotive would involve the five-year plan he laid out for the Fuccillo family in his first month of employment, which he described as including “many major projects, including growing our footprint, developing our own captive insurance company, administrative company and insurance agencies.”

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