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January 24, 2023

A former energy company executive accused of defrauding investors of more than $15 million and misappropriating investor funds has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud.  While serving as the executive chairman and managing partner of Citadel Energy, which supposedly helped oil and gas companies with fluid management, Joey Stanton Dodson made false and misleading representations and omissions to investors concerning the intended use of their funds and his own compensation.  After obtaining over $15.6 million from over 50 investors, Dodson misappropriated $1.3 million into his own accounts, and used some of it to repay investors of unrelated entities.  DOJ

December 20, 2022

Following his conviction on charges related to his direction of a Ponzi scheme and the fraudulent sale of purported N95 masks during the pandemic, Christopher Parris was sentenced to 20.3 years in prison.  In the Ponzi scheme, which collapsed in 2018, Parris and co-conspirators – including Perry Santillo, obtained at least $115.5 million from approximately 1,000 investors, with claims that they were investing in a diversified investment portfolio when, in fact, very little investor money was deployed in productive investments.  Parris also pleaded guilty to charges that he defrauded the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs and others between February and April, 2020, by falsely representing that he was able to obtain brand-name N95 masks directly from authorized sources in the United States, when in fact, he had no ready access to such masks or other PPE.  Parris obtained upfront payments totaling approximately $7.4 million from at least eight clients, knowing that he had no access to or ability to obtain or deliver the PPE.  DOJ; USAO WD NY

October 21, 2022

Michael J. DaCorta of Sarasota, FL will spend 23 years in prison for his role in a FOREX Ponzi scheme which caused at least 700 investors to lose over $80 million. DaCorta and his co-conspirators lured victims to invest in their Oasis International Group, Ltd. fund by touting Oasis as a “market maker” collecting “spread” on massive FOREX trades. In fact, Oasis was funding a Ponzi scheme, paying Oasis’ earnings back to Oasis, creating the illusion of revenue. Oasis provided fictitious account statements to customers, concealing the underlying trading losses, while funding the fraudsters’ lavish lifestyles. USAO MDFL

September 23, 2022

A man in Texas, James Clark Nix, has been sentenced to 48 years in federal prison after being found guilty of defrauding investors of at least $6 million in a Ponzi scheme spanning multiple decades.  Using his position as an accountant, Nix had promised investors—many of them his own friends—high interest returns of up to 10%, leading many to entrust him with their life’s savings.  USAO EDTX

September 12, 2022

A man who operated a Ponzi scheme that procured over $5 million from victims in Puerto Rico and the continental U.S. has been sentenced to over 11 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution to 46 victims.  Carlos Maldonado was found to have misrepresented his companies as legitimate businesses, and failed to disclose to investors that their funds would be used for his own purposes, including buying and trading stocks on his personal accounts, and paying off personal auto loans payments.  USAO PR

July 28, 2022

Jaeson Birnbaum, disbarred attorney and owner of now-bankrupt litigation finance firm, Cash4Cases, will spend 3 years in prison for defrauding investors, in addition to paying over $2.6 million in restitution, and forfeiting another $2.6 million in fraud proceeds. Birnbaum offered sham “Investor Security Agreements,” allowing investors to share in recoveries from lawsuits supposedly purchased by Cash4Cases. Birnbaum netted over $3 million in investors’ funds through his fraud, misappropriated client funds for personal use, and directed his employee to falsify the company’s books and records to show already-paid-out funds as still available to be pledged as collateral to new investors. USAO SDNY

July 11, 2022

Attorney Shimon Rosenfeld was ordered to pay over $7 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and will spend 6 months in prison for defrauding real estate investors. For a period of nearly four years, from May 2014 to March 2018, Rosenfeld solicited investors for a pooled real estate investment fund whose profits would be split with the investors. Instead, Rosenfeld misappropriated the funds to trade securities in his personal brokerage account, resulting in a $6 million loss of investor funds. SEC

June 28, 2022

Paulette Carpoff will spend over 11 years in prison for her role in DC Solar’s billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Between 2011 and 2018, DCS manufactured and sold trailer-mounted mobile solar generators, using the available federal solar tax credit to lure investors. In a leaseback arrangement, investors paid a percentage of the cost and financed the rest via DCS. Instead, DCS paid early investors with new investors’ money. Carpoff controlled the Ponzi-like payments, generated fake engineering reports for nonexistent MSGs, and lied to investors about DCS’ success. Carpoff enjoyed the spoils of the fraud, which included over 150 luxury and collector vehicles, lavish jewelry, and a private subscription jet service. USAO EDCA

May 23, 2022

Art dealer Inigo Philbrick will spend 7 years in prison and forfeit over $86 million for defrauding investors to finance his art business. Over a 3-year period, from 2016 through 2019, Philbrick misrepresented the ownership of certain artworks, selling multiple ownership interests in an artwork totaling more than 100%; created fraudulent contracts and records to further the scheme; made material misrepresentations and omissions to collectors, investors, and lenders; and sold or used artworks as collateral on loans without the knowledge of the artworks’ co-owners. The fraud was eventually exposed when investors learned of the fraudulent records and material misrepresentations Philbrick had made, and a lender notified Philbrick that he was in default on a $14 million loan. USAO SDNY

May 4, 2022

Brenda Smith, former investment manager for Broad Reach Capital LP, pleaded guilty to seven counts of securities fraud. She will pay $47.2 million in restitution, spend 109 months in prison, and spend another 3 years thereafter under supervised release, for orchestrating a $100 million securities fraud scheme. To further her fraud, Smith provided investors with false monthly account statements, made false representations about her personal investment in the company, satisfied redemption requests by diverting other investors’ funds to pay the redemption amounts, and transferred clients’ funds to investments that were outside the scope of the promised investment strategy. NJ USAO
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