Wolf of Wall Street inspiration in court

Last updated 14:00 21/02/2014
Dana Giacchetto
Reuters
WOLF INSPIRATION: Dana Giacchetto arrives at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York.

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A man who served prison time for conning Hollywood stars and reputedly inspired Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in The Wolf of Wall Street was in United States federal court facing charges that he used a friend's credit card to buy liquor, a plane ticket and food, according to court filings.

Dana Giacchetto, 51, a former investment advisor to A-listers like DiCaprio and singer Michael Stipe of the rock band REM, was charged on Thursday (local time) in Manhattan federal court with two counts of fraud. He surrendered to authorities and was granted bail at US$150,000 ($NZ180,000).

Giacchetto served a three-year prison term in the early 2000s for fraud after being charged with swindling millions from his famous clients. His attorney Ronald Fischetti said his client "absolutely denies" the latest charges.

"He doesn't understand why he has been charged," Fischetti said.

According to the complaint, Giacchetto made more than US$10,000 (NZ$12,000) in unauthorized purchases using a credit card issued to Stephan Stanulis of Staten Island, a former New York City police officer who also worked as a male stripper and as a bouncer at Giachetto's star-studded parties.

Fischetti said Stanulis assured him "he is not a victim of Dana Giacchetto."

When reached by phone, Stanulis declined to comment. A publicist for Stanulis, who recently made a movie about his life, said he had initially not understood the charges against Giacchetto.

LEO'S FRIEND

During the 1990s, Giacchetto collected millions of dollars from musicians, artists and actors in Hollywood, assuring them he would invest their money and keep it safe. He became good friends with DiCaprio, who spent the night of the 1998 Academy Awards at Giacchetto's apartment, according to Emily White, the author of Giacchetto's biography You Will Make Money in Your Sleep. That night, the blockbuster movie Titanic, in which DiCaprio starred, won 11 Oscars.

In 2000, Giacchetto was charged with fraud after it was revealed he had misappropriated nearly US$20 million  (NZ$24m) of his clients' money. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to just under five years in prison. He was released after three. White, who now works for Thomson Reuters, was also a client. She lost $80,000 (NZ$96,000).

"He was very enjoyable to be around until he wasn't, because he was lying," White said.

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White said she and other observers believed DiCaprio's performance as the stockbroker-conman Jordan Belfort in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street was inspired by his former friendship with Giacchetto. DiCaprio's publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to White's book, Stanulis met Giacchetto in a bar in New York and later moonlighted as Giacchetto's bouncer.

SALSA BUSINESS

According to the complaint, Giacchetto now owns a food business called Taste which makes salsa. He made purchases using Stanulis' American Express card and had them delivered to his apartment, which is also his business headquarters, the complaint said.

Among the purchases listed in the complaint were food, wine, dental work and a one-way ticket from Las Vegas to Newark.

- Reuters

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