House-Flipper Tied To DJ Envy Charged With ‘Ponzi-Like’ Real Estate Fraud Scheme By Feds

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Cesar Pina, a celebrity house-flipper with close ties to New York City radio host DJ Envy, was arrested Wednesday (Oct. 18) on federal charges that he perpetrated “a multimillion-dollar Ponzi-like investment fraud scheme.”

The charges come after months of social media accusations and civil litigation against Pina, who victims say stole their money with promises of big profits. DJ Envy (real name RaaShaun Casey) has been caught up in the scheme because critics say he helped promote Pina, including through appearances on his nationally syndicated hip-hop radio show The Breakfast Club — accusations he denies.

In announcing the charges, federal authorities said Pina had “exploited celebrity status and social media to develop a devoted following of potential victims.”

“Promising returns that were too good to be true, Pina allegedly defrauded dozens of people of millions of dollars,” New Jersey U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in a statement. “Our office is committed to protecting the public from these schemes and prosecuting those who lie to investors for their own personal gain.”

DJ Envy is not named in the charges and is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing. But federal prosecutors specifically noted that Pina “partnered with a celebrity disc jockey and radio personality” — listed in the charges as “Individual-1” — to boost his reputation as a real estate guru.

“Together, they used Individual-l’s celebrity to promote various real estate enterprises that Pina controlled,” prosecutors wrote in the criminal complaint. “Pina represented that he was a highly successful real estate investor, owned thousands of properties in multiple states, and had business relationships with numerous celebrities.”

Attorneys for both Pina and Envy did not return requests for comment.

The accusations against Pina first cropped up in May, when an Instagram account accused him of defrauding numerous investors — and accused Envy of playing a key role. That led to a flood of civil lawsuits from dozens of victims who say Pina owed them thousands or millions of dollars. One victim’s attorney estimated that more than 30 investors have already come forward, seeking over $40 million from Pina and his wife, Jennifer.

Many of those lawsuits, including one filed by music industry veteran Anthony Martini, name DJ Envy as a co-defendant, citing their close ties — including Pina’s frequent appearances on The Breakfast Club and a series of real estate seminars that the two men co-hosted. One case says Envy “aided and abetted” the fraudsters by “using his public likeness as a well-known radio disc jockey to promote their real estate scheme.”

Envy says those kinds of allegations are not only false — he says he himself is also a victim of Pina’s alleged scheme — but also defamatory. He’s suing the social media influencer who first publicized the allegations, claiming he “spewed” lies to promote his own real estate business, and he’s demanding to be dismissed from the investor lawsuits.

In an interview with Billboard last week, Envy’s lawyer, Massimo F. D’Angelo, said his client had nothing to do with the specific deals involved in Pina’s alleged scheme and was being targeted by lawyers and critics who were “sensationalizing” the case by involving a celebrity: “Envy had no involvement whatsoever. The only reason he’s being dragged into this is because he’s a public figure.”

Read the full complaint against Pina here.

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