Federal authorities uncovered a Ponzi scheme ring allegedly worth $394 million, and purportedly one of the largest in Maryland’s history. The Baltimore Sun reports how a Towson millionaire pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court after changing his original stance of pleading innocent to 14 separate offenses.
According to the indictment, federal authorities claim that the alleged Ponzi scheme carried out by the 53-year-old businessman and his two partners began in 2013. More than 230 victims stated that they were duped into purchasing fake consumer debt portfolios from the defendants. The Maryland resident was first arrested and indicted on 14 counts of felony transgressions and originally pleaded not guilty to every allegation. A series of charges against him included fraud, money laundering and identity theft. While in jail awaiting trial, however, prison guards discovered the defendant writing letters to his wife instructing her to hide their assets. Authorities then charged his 30-year-old wife with conspiracy to obstruct justice.
It is unclear from the news report why the defendant decided to change his initial plea. He instead acknowledged his guilt, but only to the charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. During his court appearance, the Baltimore County resident admitted to defrauding his investors who he had enticed from all around the world. Over a five-year period, he was blamed for swindling hundreds of millions of dollars which he used to purchase luxury homes, foreign sports cars and expensive designer clothes.
Under the U.S. Constitution, every citizen accused of a federal crime has the right to a fair and speedy trial. By agreeing to plead guilty, however, defendants may experience a quicker outcome by waiving their right to a trial. Regardless of whether a jury hears a person’s case, a conviction of a felony fraud charge may result in a substantial fine and a lengthy prison sentence. The court may also order a defendant to pay restitution and disgorge the profits made from any investments.