Miramar Man Pleads Guilty to Participation in Multi-Million-Dollar Ponzi Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 11, 2009|
Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Miami Field Office, announced that defendant Abner Alabre, 33, of Miramar, pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud more than 600 investors throughout South Florida. Sentencing will be before U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, but a date has not yet been scheduled.
On November 20, 2009, Brian Taglieri, 39, of Jupiter, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with the same investment scheme. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Ronnie Bass, Jr., 37, of Miramar, remains charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering, substantive securities and wire fraud, and money laundering. Michael Muzio, 45, of Tampa, is also charged in this case with conspiracy to commit money laundering and substantive money laundering for assisting the transfers of proceeds of this scheme. No trial date has been scheduled.
According to the charges and statements made in Court during the plea, from around April 2008 through March 2009, Homepals Investment Club, LLC and its affiliates operated as a Ponzi scheme that promised investors a 90 percent -100 percent return in just 90 days. Although investors were often told that these high returns would be generated through securities trading, the defendants simply used new investors' money to pay promised returns to existing investors.
The defendants raised more than $12 million from investors by selling unsecured notes issued by Homepals Investment Club LLC and Homepals, LLC. Investors were induced to invest in the scheme by materially false and misleading representations and omissions of material facts. As a result of this fraudulent scheme, hundreds of investors have lost more than $6 million. According to the Indictment and in-court statements, the defendants used the Ponzi funds to buy, among other things, interests in a night club, a cigar business operated by Michael Muzio, and to pay for unauthorized personal expenses for the other defendants.
Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the cooperative efforts of the Miami Regional Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). In a separate action, the Miami Regional Office of the SEC filed a parallel civil complaint seeking injunctive and other equitable relief. The criminal case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Dwight O’Quinn.
Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies stated, “Investors must have faith in the securities market for it to thrive. As demonstrated in this case, part of that faith comes from swift regulatory and law enforcement action against those individuals and companies that swindle investors.”
An Indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.