Alleged Ponzi scheme operator pleads guilty to wire fraud

A man who was accused of transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars from California banks to those in Hawaii pleaded guilty to charges recently in a Honolulu court. The man was accused of several counts of white collar crime, including fraud in a $400,000 wire transfer between San Francisco and Honolulu in July 2003, $730,000 worth of transfers in April, May and August 2003, and September and October 2003 wire transfers totaling $100,000 from a bank in Orange County.

Total losses in the Ponzi scheme included $1 million. Most of these funds allegedly came from money transferred to previous investors by collecting money from new investors. Government prosecutors agreed to dismisses remaining counts against the man at the time of sentencing if the accused man would participate in a plea agreement. However, there is no sentencing agreement in place; if convicted, the man could receive up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

The plea agreement also includes plans for restitution to the victims although the man claims that he is not wealthy and has no assets available for repayment. The accused man is being held without bail until sentencing. As a German national, he may face deportation after his release from prison.

Those accused of white collar crimes, especially in cases involving large amounts of money, may find that they benefit from consulting a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to help those accused of financial crimes negotiate a beneficial plea agreement or mount a defense to the charges against them. The attorney may also be able to reduce jail time and monetary fines for those accused of these crimes.

Source: The Garden Island, “Heckman pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme,” Tom LaVenture, April 12, 2013

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