Sarasota Ponzi Schemer Marian Morgan Resentenced to More Than 33 Years in Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 18, 2013|
TAMPA—U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew yesterday resentenced Marian I. Morgan to 33 years and nine months in federal prison for conspiracy, wire fraud, interstate/foreign transportation of stolen funds, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. The court also ordered her to pay restitution in the amount of $19,958,995. A federal jury found Marian I. Morgan guilty on September 29, 2011, after a 17-day trial.
Marian I. Morgan was originally indicted on December 17, 2009. She was subsequently charged by a superseding indictment on May 31, 2011. Her husband, John Morgan, was also indicted. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges, on June 15, 2011, and was sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison on November 28, 2011.
According to the evidence presented during the trial, Marian and John Morgan, who resided in Sarasota, Florida, were principals of a company named Morgan European Holdings from about 2005 to 2009. They promoted sham "high yield/prime bank note" investment programs through the company, promising investors that they would receive returns of 200-300 percent in three months and that their principal funds would be held safe in an escrow account in Denmark. Trial evidence showed that the Morgans spent more than $10 million of investors’ money on themselves, soon after investors wired the funds to the escrow account. The Morgans purchased luxury automobiles, a waterfront mansion, and numerous luxury items with investors’ funds. When investors inquired about the status of their investments, Marian Morgan sent repeated "lulling" communications, assuring the investors that their funds were safe in the escrow account. Between 2005 and 2009, the Morgans took in more than $28 million in investors’ funds and returned some funds in the form of Ponzi payments.
In June 2009, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an enforcement action in the Middle District of Florida against the Morgans and others, alleging investment fraud. In response to the SEC action, Marian Morgan told investors to lie to the SEC and not cooperate with the agency. When the Morgans fled the United States and did not return as ordered for a hearing in that case on July 16, 2009, U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara issued a warrant for their arrest. The Morgans were arrested in August 2009 in the island nation of Sri Lanka, after attempting to pass a forged financial instrument. They were returned by federal agents to the United States in December 2009.
In April 2012, Judge Bucklew sentenced Marian Morgan to serve 35 years in prison. Marian Morgan appealed her sentence to the Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals. In September 2013, that court held that Marian Morgan’s sentence should not have included an enhancement for abusing a position of trust and remanded it to the trial court for resentencing.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The Danish National Police also cooperated in the investigation of this case. It was prosecuted by Assistant United State Attorney Cherie L. Krigsman and former Assistant United States Attorney Robert T. Monk.