Home Columbia Press Releases 2010 Three Hebrew Boys Sentenced in $82 Million Ponzi Case

Three Hebrew Boys Sentenced in $82 Million Ponzi Case

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 15, 2010
  • District of South Carolina (803) 929-3000

COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that the men who call themselves the Three Hebrew Boys—Tony Pough, age 47, Joseph Brunson, age 47, and Timothy McQueen, age 52, all of Columbia, South Carolina—were sentenced late yesterday by United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour to the highest fraud sentences in the history of this federal district. Brunson and McQueen each received 27 years' imprisonment. Pough, because he had a prior conviction, received 30 years' imprisonment. They also were ordered to pay $82 million in restitution to those they defrauded. So far, a federally appointed receiver has obtained approximately $20 million in assets that will be used to reimburse the victims.

Nettles commented, "Within the past few years, the Three Hebrew Boys and Al Parish have all been sentenced to between 24 and 30 years for operating South Carolina-based Ponzi schemes. These schemes wrecked the lives of thousands of people. As U.S. Attorney, especially in this time of economic hardship, I will continue to seek out and aggressively prosecute those who prey on their fellow citizens and deprive them of their hard-earned savings. I hope that those who would defraud their neighbors, friends, and associates hear this message loud and clear." The three were convicted in November 2009 for masterminding a dubious FOREX investment program that was nothing more than an $82 million Ponzi scheme. The 58 charges included conspiracy, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; mail fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341; interstate transportation of stolen goods, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2314; and money laundering, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957.

Evidence presented at the trial established that the Three Hebrew Boys promised massive returns based on investment in the foreign currency exchange market, or FOREX. For a contribution of a few thousand dollars, investors were supposed to have their homes, cars, college tuition, credit card bills, and other financial obligations paid off. Instead, the Three Hebrew Boys used some of the incoming money from new investors to pay their outstanding obligations. With the rest, they purchased a private jet, luxury suites at the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons stadiums, a fleet of cars—including two Mercedes roadsters each valued in excess of $100,000—homes in Florida, condominiums in Atlanta, and a $900,000 party bus, among other things.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Assistant United States Attorney Winston D. Holliday, Jr., and Mark C. Moore of the Columbia office handled the case.