Entertainment Promoter Extradited from Brazil to Face Charges in $300 Million Securities Fraud Scheme
John P. (Jack) Utsick, who in 2005, according to Billboard Magazine, was the third-largest concert promoter and entertainment manager, made his initial appearance today. Utsick was extradited from Brazil to the United States as a result of his alleged involvement in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of approximately $300 million.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
In 2006, John P. (Jack) Utsick, 72, formerly of Miami Beach, fled South Florida to Brazil after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed civil securities fraud charges against him, and after he became aware of a related FBI investigation.
According to a Superseding Indictment filed November 30, 2010, that was unsealed by court order on August 26, 2014, and documents filed in the SEC’s fraud case:
Utsick engaged in a scheme that defrauded more than 3,300 investors out of approximately $300 million. These investors believed that their monies were used to fund Utsick’s concert promotion business, Worldwide Entertainment, Inc. and The Entertainment Group Fund, Inc. (Worldwide), which Utsick operated from at least 1998 through late 2005. As alleged in court documents, Utsick promised investors fixed rates of return ranging from 15% to 25% and, in some instances, an additional percentage of the profits generated by Utsick and his companies related to specific concert events or tours of specific artists. Many investors were encouraged to roll over their principal and purported “profits” from project to project.
As alleged in court documents, most of the entertainment projects lost money and, as a result, Utsick paid earlier investors with funds raised from new investors. Utsick also used investor funds for other activities that were not disclosed to investors, including for his own personal stock and options trading, the purchase of two multimillion dollar condominiums in Miami Beach, a yacht, and to fund a motion picture, “National Lampoon’s Pledge This!,” starring Paris Hilton.
Utsick produced events and concert tours for numerous artists, including Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Aerosmith, Luis Miguel, and Juanes.
After the SEC filed its securities fraud action in 2006, and Utsick was made aware of the criminal investigation, he fled to Brazil. According to court filings in the SEC case, Utsick went to great lengths to avoid providing evidence to the SEC or accounting for the disappearance of millions of dollars that had been raised from investors.
After the U.S. Department of Justice initiated extradition proceedings in Brazil, Utsick challenged the validity of the indictment in the Brazilian courts. In August 2014, the Supreme Court of Brazil ordered that Utsick be extradited to the United States. Utsick was extradited from Brazil on December 6, 2014, and was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshal’s Service and transported to Miami. He made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman.
Utsick is charged with eight counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1341. He faces a statutory maximum term of twenty years in prison as to each count. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga for further proceedings.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, the assistance provided by the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, and the efforts of the U.S. Marshal’s Service to assist with the arrest of the defendant. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy.
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 District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.