In area Ponzi scheme case, the ‘losers’ are making a new effort to get millions back

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ponzi scheme mastermind gets 15 years in prison

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The investors who lost the most in the William Apostelos Ponzi scheme have added more plaintiffs and defendants in a refiled lawsuit against those they call “net winners.”

The plaintiffs still aim to recover some of their losses in the scam that cost hundreds of people millions of dollars.

In the refiling submitted this month by attorney Toby Henderson in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, there are now 30 named plaintiffs and 76 defendants instead of 19 and 56, respectively, when it was filed in March 2018.

“Like all classic Ponzi-Schemes, the Net-Winners’ profits or winnings from the Scheme came from the Net-Losers, including the Plaintiffs, rather than legitimate business profits,” Henderson wrote in the refiling. Henderson did not return a message seeking further comment.

RELATED: Those who lost in Apostelos’ Ponzi scheme want money from winners

Apostelos, 57, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for fraud. Apostelos is housed in the Elkton facility in Lisbon, Ohio, and scheduled to be released July 18, 2030.

Apostelos’ wife, Connie, and others also were sentenced to prison.

Henderson and the plaintiffs have tried various methods to recoup some money but haven’t been successful in other lawsuits. A forced bankruptcy case against Apostelos was dismissed in July because necessary documents weren’t available.

“The first and only reasonable opportunity the Plaintiffs had to even begin to identify Defendant Net-Winners, the specific dates and amounts of transfers between the Net-Winner and Apostelos, and the fraudulent nature of any particular transfer involving the Defendant Net-Winners, arose in May 2018 when the United States Department of Justice produced some of the Plaintiffs records the government had seized as part of the criminal actions against Apostelos and his associates,” Henderson wrote. “This information had been previously withheld by the federal government.”

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As in the original filing, the plaintiffs who lost the most are from one family. The complaint shows that Dr. Rafael Cruz Sr., Dr. Gloria Cruz, Dr. Rafael Cruz Jr. and other family members lost about $5.2 million.

The estate and family of Steven Harvey of Westerville, now represented by Rebecca Riccobon, lost nearly $1.7 million. The rest of the plaintiffs lost between $50,000 and $360,000, according to the complaint.

Only one defendent has answered the filing and court and denied the substantive allegations.

RELATED: William Apostelos pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme

Those named as “Net-Winners” include David Blasik, who allegedly earned $926,307; Daniel Peffley, who allegedly made $991,249; David Zoellner, who allegedly made a profit of $936,725; Jamie Spencer, who allegedly made 870,782; Lee Struck, who allegedly earned $699,083; and Racey Morris, whose winnings were estimated at $535,370.

The other alleged net winners all made between $10,000 and $480,000, according to the complaint, which calculated the total fraudulent transfers from the Ponzi scheme to “winner” defendants at more than $31 million.

RELATED: Seizures in Ponzi case include race horses, cash, jewelry and artwork

A hearing was scheduled for Nov. 30 when some of the defendants have asked to be heard on a motion for frivolous conduct damages.

The Ponzi scheme using several shell companies raised at least $66.7 million from 350 investors, “including business persons, professionals, retired police officers and retired factory workers,” according to the original lawsuit.

“Apostelos portrayed himself as a sophisticated investor and businessman, and he exploited his network of clients, business associates, and friends to attract new investors,” the original complaint said. “Many investors invested their retirement savings and lost their entire investments to the scheme.”

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