Earlier this year, a Minnesota man pleaded guilty to operating the largest Ponzi scheme in Orange County history. According to federal prosecutors, Gerard Cellette, 51, of Andover, MN pleaded guilty to securities fraudand other charges. In all, Cellette pleaded guilty to 455 felony counts associated with a years-long Ponzi scheme that involved investors from all over the country.
Many of the victims came from Orange County, and provided about $150 million in funding to the scheme. Cellette told investors that he had printing deals with major retailers like Target, but needed capital to perform the work. In some cases, Cellette promised investors returns of 10% over 90 days.
Instead of investing the funds into his non-existent business, Cellette used new investor funds to pay off previous investors, and diverted a significant amount of the money to his personal expenses. Orange County investors lost about $21 million in the scam. Other investors around the nation lost an additional $34 million. According to prosecutors, Cellette used investor funds to purchase lakefront properties, luxury items, and commercial properties.
The guilty plea came with a 35 year sentence, a $40 million fine and a restitution order of $20 million. Cellette does not have the funds or enough assets to make restitution in full or to pay the court-ordered fine.
Ventura securities fraud attorney
Securities fraud charges are frequently prosecuted by the federal government. The size and scope of the fraud often determine who prosecutes the crime. If you’ve been arrested for securities fraud, investment fraud or other similar financial crime, you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend.
Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience, exclusively in criminal defense, and he is ready to take your case. Federal prosecutions are intense, in part because the federal government is very well funded and well prepared to conduct extended prosecutions. You need an attorney who will fight aggressively or you.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County securities fraud/federal defense case.
Photo Credit: Psyche Delia, via Flickr.com