Man Charged in $10 Million NASCAR Merchandise Scam Arraigned on Charges of Bilking Dozens of Victims
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 14, 2009|
A man who allegedly took at least $10 million from victims—including friends and family members—who thought they were financing a wholesale business that distributed NASCAR merchandise pleaded not guilty this morning to federal fraud charges and late today was ordered held without bond.
Eliott Jay Dresher, 63, of Chatsworth, was arraigned this morning in United States District Court in Los Angeles after being indicted December 4 by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleges four counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. The indictment additionally seeks the forfeiture of ill-gotten gains that Dresher allegedly received as a result of a scheme that he ran for about 10 years.
According to the indictment, Dresher solicited money from investors with promises that their money would be used to finance a business in which Dresher purchased NASCAR apparel and sold the merchandise to “big box” stores such as Costco. As part of his scheme, Dresher guaranteed substantial monthly returns, typically between 20 percent and 25 percent every six months. However, the indictment alleges, Dresher did not really operate such a business and all of the funds paid to investors were “Ponzi” payments that came from the victims’ principal investments.
Dresher’s scheme collapsed last year when he was unable to make payments to investors. At this point, according to the indictment, Dresher lulled his victims by falsely telling them that he had more than $70 million in various bank accounts, but he was having difficulty accessing the funds, so he had hired two attorneys to get the investors' money back from one of the banks.
The indictment alleges that Dresher caused approximately 50 victims to invest at least $10 million with him, most of which was ultimately lost.
Dresher was initially charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court on October 16. Federal authorities took custody of Dresher on November 19, and after appearing in federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada, he was returned to Los Angeles, where a United States
Magistrate Judge ordered him held without bond. Following a hearing late this afternoon, another Magistrate Judge determined that Dresher was a flight risk and ordered him detained pending trial.
At this morning’s arraignment, Dresher’s case was assigned to United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, who scheduled a trial for January 26.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
The case against Dresher was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.