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» BREAKING NEWS, GUEST RUNDOWNS » PONZI SCHEMER WHO FAKED JAMAICAN BIZ LOANS GETS 6 YEARS!

PONZI SCHEMER WHO FAKED JAMAICAN BIZ LOANS GETS 6 YEARS!

By Brian Amaral

A man who ripped off investors in a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme, promising that he was investing in Jamaican businesses but really paying down other investors, was sentenced Wednesday in Massachusetts federal court to 70 months, or nearly six years, in prison.

Mark A. Jones’ crimes warranted even more than the 50 months prosecutors had recommended, Senior U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf said.

“You really did commit a despicable crime,” Judge Wolf said. “The letters from the victims make that clear.”

Jones, who lived in Jamaica, had quickly pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. He told investors that they were putting their money toward bridge loans for Jamaican businesses from 2007 to 2015, but, federal prosecutors said, from at least November 2014, he stopped actually using their money for loans and instead used it to pay off other investors.

Jones sent out bogus documents to keep the wool over investors’ eyes and hide the fact that he’d lost their money, prosecutors said.

Victims recounted the financial and emotional hardship in letters to the judge, who said he would have sentenced him to the top of the guideline range, 87 months, were it not for Jones’ admirable qualities, like donating computers to Jamaican schools. The 70 months represents the bottom of the guideline range.

One elderly victim said she lost $300,000, which she was hoping to put toward her grandkids’ education, Judge Wolf recounted.

Jones had asked for a year in prison, saying that he didn’t start out to rip off investors and resorted to crime only after facing financial crisis. Self-medicating his depression with booze contributed to the conduct, he said. That warranted a downward reduction for diminished capacity, he said. Judge Wolf rejected that effort, saying he knew what he was doing was wrong, but suggested he enter alcohol treatment in prison, which could shave a year off his sentence.

“I can’t undo what I did,” Jones said. “It’s something I’ll live with.”

Federal prosecutors asked for 50 months in prison, saying it was a serious crime but acknowledging that Jones quickly pled guilty.

A total of 14 recognized victims lost $3.7 million, prosecutors said. Jones sold a condominium and his stake in a Jamaican call center, which will help pay down his debt. He has also been sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Forni and Stephen Frank.

Jones is represented by Jeffrey Denner.

The case is U.S. v. Jones, case number 1:16-cr-10220-MLW, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

–Editing by Breda Lund.

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