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Con man gets maximum sentence

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Darryl Enriquez
January 13, 2011
— An Illinois man was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for passing bad cashier's checks at an Elkhorn business and for attempted fraud against a financial institution in Delavan.

Eric R. Castronovo, 33, whose last known address is Cherry Valley, Ill., pleaded guilty in November to using a phony cashier's check to pay more than $13,000 for two all-terrain vehicles at Cycles Plus in Elkhorn in October 2009.


The district attorney's office and Castronovo reached an agreement that he should receive the maximum sentence for felony theft by false representation. Two misdemeanor charges also were read into the court record.


After serving the prison term, Castronovo will then serve five years of extended supervision.


During sentencing, Walworth County Judge John Race told Castronovo he saw him as an intelligent person.


"He's able to work some elaborate schemes against banks, but to no avail," Race said of Castronovo. "If he had chosen a different path, it probably would have worked out better."


Castronovo told Race that his drive to never fail was the reason he went to such extreme measures to get the money and prop up his failing business as a semi-truck driver. There was no indication Castronovo has a substance abuse problem, Race said.


Castronovo was serving a prison term of one to 10 years for fraud in West Virginia when he was brought to Walworth County in September to face charges here.


Castronovo also has bank fraud charges pending in Illinois for trying to defraud a Rockford bank of $400,000, Race said. It's likely Castronovo will be returned to West Virginia to finish that sentence.


Castronovo's sentence in Wisconsin will run concurrently with his West Virginia term. For instance, if Castronovo is released from West Virginia in three years, he would need to serve the remaining two years of his Wisconsin sentence here.


Race also ordered Castronovo to pay more than $9,000 in restitution to his victims.


According to a Walworth County criminal complaint, Castronovo used the name Hugo Lopez during his scams. The complaint also accuses Castronovo of depositing a fraudulent $3,797 check at Associated Bank in Delavan and a $9,300 check at Guaranty Bank in Delavan. both in September 2009.


Castronovo also is accused of trying to pass phony checks at Lake Geneva Guaranty Bank last October. He was identified through surveillance photos and by fingerprints on the checks, according to the complaint.



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