A well known and highly respected Chelsea man, the owner of one of the city’s most outstanding pieces of Victorian architecture on Washington Avenue and a longtime member of the city’s Planning Board, has been accused of defrauding at least 40 investors of an estimated $1 million over six years, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.
Galvin alleges that Gary Martel sold investors high interest bonds and promised to deliver shares of Facebook to investors at the time of its initial public offering several weeks ago.
Martel has resigned his position on the Planning Board in the wake of the allegations.
Galvin’s office has charged Martel with selling unregistered investments and said his firms, Martel Financial Group of Woburn and Chelsea, and Martel Financial Services and MFG Funding, both of Chelsea – were not licensed with the state.
News of Martel’s apparent financial difficulties and the ongoing investigation of them by Galvin’s office came as a surprise to those who know him in Chelsea, where his participation and interest in the community were hallmarks of his public life here for many years.
“He is a big supporter of the Bellingham-Cary House Association. He founded the Washington Avenue Gateway Association and in general, he is a very positive and thoughtful community activist,” said City Manager Jay Ash.
“He has been an integral part of the neighborhood and the community. I’m shocked by the charges leveled against him,” said Ash.
Martel lives in the former Casey Funeral Home at the corner of Washington Avenue and Sagamore Avenue. That home is a fine example of rich Victorian architectural detail inside and out.
So far, the state has filed civil complaints against Martel – not criminal complaints.
Martel’s firm has shut down, according to Galvin.
Martel denies any wrongdoing.
However his former clients are alleging they are owed money from him, and that Martel had been making up stories about why he was not keeping his end of the deals that they cut, according to Galvin.
The state is seeking a cease and desist order against Martel and his companies, Galvin said.
The state is also seeking an accounting of all the business Martel did as well as a bar against Martel acting as a broker, dealer or investment advisor in Massachusetts.