A Springboro man admitted guilt Friday in a $70 million Ponzi scheme that a federal prosecutor called the biggest locally in history, one that bilked nearly 480 investors out of $20 million dollars.
William Apostelos, 55, pleaded guilty in Dayton’s U.S. District Court to two of 27 indicted counts. Apostelos would spend up to 15 years in federal prison if U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose accepts the plea deal struck between prosecutors and Apostelos’ federal public defender.
“I think this is the biggest Ponzi scheme that we’ve investigated in the Dayton area, maybe ever,” said Benjamin C. Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. “I’m certainly very hopeful that (the victims) will view this as a fair and just disposition under the circumstances, and that is our conclusion.”
Rose ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled Apostelos’ sentencing for June 30. His wife, Connie, is still scheduled for trial, but her attorney has said a plea deal is being negotiated. If Rose rejects the plea deal, Apostelos can withdraw his plea.
Apostelos said, “Guilty” when asked by Rose for his plea to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to conversion of funds from an employee benefits fund.
The maximum combined sentences for those offenses is 25 years in prison and a fine of at least $500,000. Defense attorney Art Mullins said the non-binding sentencing guidelines would place Apostelos in a prison term range from 14 to 17.5 years.
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Apostelos agreed to give up on nearly all items seized — including racehorses, real estate, statues, vehicles, jewelry, cash and bank accounts worth about $650,000 — to help satisfy as much of the victim’s losses as possible. At least 15 victims attended Friday’s hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Tabacchi said the government’s calculation is that at least $20 million is missing. The horses already were auctioned, but other items will be up for sale by U.S. Marshals.
Rose said restitution is a “significant issue,” and many victims have said they doubt they will get a fraction of investment back. “All of the money that comes into the court for purposes of satisfying that obligation is then going to be doled out” in proportionate amount to what the victims lost.
“This was a classic Ponzi scheme where Apostelos ran purported investment businesses, solicited people to deposit money with him that he was supposed to invest on their behalf,” Glassman said. “In reality, he wasn’t investing it. He was using it for his own purposes to fund his own lavish lifestyle, and he has admitted that that’s in fact what he was doing.”
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Apostelos, said he was a 1979 graduate of Bellbrook High School and completed 1.5 years at Wright State University. The Aposteloses were indicted in 2015 on 27 counts alleging that they defrauded investors from 2010 until October 2014.
Three other people have pleaded guilty to related crimes. Last month, Apostelos’ attorney Steven Scudder pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Last year, Apostelos’ sister and niece each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.
Apostelos operated and oversaw multiple purported investment and asset management companies in the Dayton area, including WMA Enterprises LLC, Midwest Green Resources LLC and Roan Capital.
Apostelos falsely reported to investors that he held a degree in mathematics and was a registered securities broker. According to court documents, Apostelos was spending $35,000 per month on his wife’s horse racing company and $400 per month on Victoria’s Secret lingerie.
“When you knowingly mix deceit and trickery into the financial well-being of individuals, you create a recipe for devastation that could last a lifetime,” said Troy N. Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Combining the financial investigative expertise of the IRS with the skills and resources of our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office makes a formidable team for combating major, greed-driven crimes.”
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