A Maryland man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of more than $20 million, the Justice Department announced this week.
Bradley Mascho, 53, pleaded guilty in June 2018 to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making a false statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He was sentenced Wednesday in Greenbelt, Md. federal court.
Prosecutors say Mascho admitted to working with investment adviser Dawn Bennett to solicit $20 million from more than 40 different investors in Bennett’s online luxury sportswear retalier, DJBennett.com, between December 2014 and April 2017. That money, authorities say, was used to pay Bennett and Mascho’s personal expenses and repay prior investors, though prosecutors noted that Mascho misappropriated the funds “to a less extent” than Bennett.
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“This is consistent with a Ponzi scheme — a fraudulent investment scheme in which the operator of the scheme solicits investors by promising high rates of return with little risk,” the Justice Department said. “The scheme operator then funds payments to the earlier investors through funds obtained through new investors. Typically, the operator of the scheme will use investment funds for purposes other than what was conveyed to the investors.”
The FBI began investigating Bennett in December 2015 after the SEC formally accused her of defrauding investors by inflating the amount of assets she managed and exaggerating the returns on her customers’ investments.
Prosecutors said Bennett didn’t tell investors in her luxury sportswear company that she was using their money to pay off other investors or to cover personal expenses, including more than $141,000 on astrological gems, more than $100,000 on cosmetic medical procedures and a $500,000 annual lease for a luxury suite at the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium.
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An FBI agent’s affidavit said investigators found evidence in Bennett’s home that she tried to silence SEC investigators by paying more than $800,000 for prayers by Hindu priests in India to ward off federal investigators.
Bennett, 56, was convicted of securities fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud this past October and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 31. She was also ordered to pay more than $14.5 million and forfeit over $14.3 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
SOURCE : https://www.foxnews.com/us/maryland-man-sentenced-30-months-prison-20-million-ponzi-scheme