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Ponzi Scheme

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NEWS
August 16, 2011
PENNSYLVANIA Guv's energetic reply The Corbett administration has defended its policies on renewable energy and conservation, and denied that it is putting aside those efforts in favor of Pennsylvania's booming natural-gas industry. The administration made the statements in response to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story that said that the administration is stripping employees from renewable-energy and conservation programs. Patrick Henderson, Gov. Corbett's energy czar, said that the Office of Energy and Technology Deployment in the state Department of Environmental Protection was renamed, not disbanded, and that the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act program, which helps school districts and local governments invest in energy conservation projects, was under review.
NEWS
April 10, 2012 | BY MICHAEL HINKELMAN, Daily News Staff Writer
At his sentencing Tuesday, a federal prosecutor said Robert Stinson, Jr. had a three-decade long career as a "cunning and deadly" con man. U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson entenced the five-time fraudster to more than 33 years in federal prison. Authorities said Stinson, 57, bilked at least 263 investors out of more than $14 million in a Ponzi scheme that was shut down by Securities & Exchange Commission in 2010. Stinson's scheme collapsed in June 2010 when law enforcement officials raided the Philadelphia offices of his company, Life's Good, Inc., which Stinson started in 2006.
BUSINESS
May 24, 2008 | By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
Pennsylvania's attorney general yesterday filed a consumer-protection lawsuit in Berks County against the alleged perpetrators of a mortgage and investment scheme that cost 800 consumers nearly $40 million before it collapsed last year. Attorney General Tom Corbett's 88-page complaint in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas is at least the fourth lawsuit seeking restitution for victims of Wesley A. Snyder and his Berks County companies. Other lawsuits in federal and state court are trying to tap 21 banks that lent money through Snyder's mortgage brokerage, including some of the nation's largest, for restitution.
BUSINESS
November 17, 2009 | By Harold Brubaker INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday charged two Philadelphia residents and their Bala Cynwyd company in a $30 million Ponzi scheme that purported to raise money for environmentally friendly businesses. The SEC's civil lawsuit, filed in Denver, says Troy Wragg, 28, and Amanda Knorr, 26, cofounders of Mantria Corp., made bogus claims and falsely promised enormous returns from the development of residential housing in rural Tennessee and from the production of a charcoal substitute known as biochar.
BUSINESS
January 28, 2009 | By Harold Brubaker INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Joseph S. Forte, who in September told investors he had grown their money to $154 million, but now stands accused of running a Ponzi scheme, appeared alone in federal court yesterday because he has no money for a lawyer. "I'm trying to raise the money," Forte told Magistrate Judge Faith Angell. She granted him a one-week continuance, pushing the preliminary hearing back to Monday. Before the hearing, Forte, 53, who has a stubbly salt-and-pepper beard, hair of the same color, and small, dark eyes, leaned forward on a courtroom bench with his hands together as if in prayer and his thumbs under his chin.
BUSINESS
December 22, 2012 | By Larry Neumeister and Colleen Long, Associated Press
NEW YORK - The brother of imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for crimes committed in the shadow of his sibling. Peter Madoff, 67, agreed to serve the time in prison when he pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy and falsifying the books and records of an investment adviser. About 40 of the thousands of investors who lost $20 billion they invested with the family's investment business wrote victim impact statements submitted to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.
NEWS
February 12, 2012
A Bala Cynwyd man who authorities say scammed investors out of millions of dollars using a Ponzi scheme will serve more than eight years in prison. Ira J. Pressman, 64, pleaded guilty in July to fraud and money-laundering charges. He was sentenced Friday in federal court to 97 months behind bars. Pressman had run a company since 2006 that purported to buy and sell closeout and overstock merchandise. He promised annual returns of up to 100 percent, but most of the deals were fictitious, prosecutors said.
NEWS
March 9, 2013 | By Mari A. Schaefer and Chris Palmer and Frank Kummer, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS PHILLY.COM
The curious case of Istvan Merchenthaler has gotten odder still. The 42-year-old Chester County man, who allegedly stole more than $2 million from about 200 investors in a Ponzi scheme, has now been linked to 60 pipe bombs discovered Thursday in a storage locker in Malvern. The locker, at a facility on Lancaster Avenue, was rented by Merchenthaler, authorities said. The bombs were crafted out of 12-inch-long sections of PVC piping capped at both ends, officials said. They were in a foot-locker-size container.
NEWS
April 6, 2011
Ward Onsa, owner of New Century Investment Management L.L.C. in Southampton, Bucks County, operated a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of at least $2.2 million from March 2005 through Sept. 2010, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Onsa also faces criminal charges in federal court for the Eastern District of New York. Prosecutors alleged securities and wire fraud starting in May 2004.
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NEWS
October 18, 2014
A real estate broker from West Chester has been charged with wire and mail fraud for cheating investors out of more than $2 million in a real estate ponzi scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Marie Mikesche Bontigao, 43, persuaded people to invest in her real estate projects and then used the money to pay personal expenses and operate her business between 2007 and 2013, according to court records. She has franchise locations of EXIT Realty in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.
NEWS
July 22, 2013 | By Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer
One of the 160 or so victims in Everett Charles Ford Miller's $41.2 million Ponzi scheme was a retired Cherry Hill radiologist whose family lost $2 million. Another was Miller's neighbor, an owner of car dealerships whose suburban McMansion borders Miller's house on a pleasant lakeside cul-de-sac in Marlton. Their kids were friends, but not anymore. A third was an elderly woman who invested - and lost - $80,000 that she and her deceased husband had earned in their plumbing business.
NEWS
June 16, 2013 | By Rita Giordano, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Cherry Hill lawyer suspended from practice was sentenced Friday to time served - five months - and ordered to pay restitution of $1.2 million in funds he misappropriated from clients of his law firm. Michael W. Kwasnik, 44, of Philadelphia, also was sentenced to five months' probation by Superior Court Judge Irvin J. Snyder in connection with two counts of money-laundering, to which he pleaded guilty in January, according a spokesman for state acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
NEWS
March 15, 2013 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cherry Hill lawyer Michael Kwasnik, under federal investigation in an alleged $8.5 million Ponzi scheme, has pleaded guilty to state money-laundering charges in the theft of $1.1 million from a 96-year-old widow. The New Jersey Attorney General's Office said that under the plea agreement, signed quietly in late January, Kwasnik will repay the estate of the Cherry Hill woman, who died sometime after he was indicted on Nov. 7, 2011. Kwasnik remains the focus of a federal criminal probe into the scheme that authorities say was used to bilk dozens of elderly victims.
NEWS
March 15, 2013
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a suspect in a $2 million Ponzi scheme, who has been linked to pipe bombs found in a Malvern storage locker, to remain in custody. At a detention hearing, Judge Robert F. Kelly cited bail violations against Istvan Merchenthaler, 42, "and other factors. " A new indictment against Merchenthaler, of Chester County, was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia last week on the day that 60 pipe bombs were found in a Lancaster Avenue storage locker he had rented.
NEWS
March 10, 2013 | By Mari A. Schaefer and Chris Palmer and Frank Kummer, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS PHILLY.COM
The curious case of Istvan Merchenthaler has gotten odder still. The 42-year-old Chester County man, who allegedly stole more than $2 million from about 200 investors in a Ponzi scheme, has now been linked to 60 pipe bombs discovered Thursday in a storage locker in Malvern. The locker, at a facility on Lancaster Avenue, was rented by Merchenthaler, authorities said. The bombs were crafted out of 12-inch-long sections of PVC piping capped at both ends, officials said. They were in a foot-locker-size container.
NEWS
March 9, 2013 | By Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Chester County man already accused in an alleged Ponzi scheme faces additional federal charges that include stealing two cars while out on bail. Istvan "Steve" Merchenthaler, 42, of Coatesville, first arrested in May, allegedly stole more than $2 million from about 200 investors. He claimed to be founder of PhoneCard USA, a prepaid phone-card and cellphone distributor, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia. Merchenthaler told investors that he had "lucrative contracts" with Walmart, 7-Eleven, and BJs Wholesale Club, and that they would see a generous return on their investments.
NEWS
March 9, 2013 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The Corbett administration's fiscal chief, amid a withering, two-hour pummeling by state House Democrats on the final day of budget hearings, accused former Gov. Ed Rendell on Thursday of running "Ponzi schemes" on the citizenry. What is traditionally an opportunity for lawmakers to publicly make a case for funding programs turned into a partisan debate, as Budget Secretary Charles Zogby defended Gov. Corbett's policies and trashed his Democratic predecessor's. Zogby touted Corbett's belt-tightening initiatives, saying the Republican governor "inherited" a $4 billion deficit along with unresolved issues such as pension funding.
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