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English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot
English: Bernard Madoff’s mugshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following the 2008 recession, a media storm erupted over the Bernard “Bernie” Madoff Ponzi scheme. Madoff was a stockbroker, investment adviser, financier, former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market. Madoff admitted to operating a Ponzi scheme which is considered the largest financial fraud in United States history. In the end, the scandal left countless people essentially robbed of their life savings.

Although the Madoff scandal will be remembered as the largest of its kind, numerous schemes just like this are still being prosecuted across the United States. Here in Orange County, two investment advisers were convicted on Tuesday of fraud. William J. Ferry and Dennis J. Clinton were both found guilty in U.S. District Court of eight fraud counts- one count of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud. The jury convicted based on the prosecutions assertion that, “Mr. Ferry and Mr. Clinton tried to dupe undercover agents into believing their high-yield investment program would earn them extremely high rates of return.”

As noted, Ferry and Clinton had been caught in a FBI sting while the pair was attempting to defraud an undercover agent of $1 billion between February 2006 and December 2006. The agent had been posed as a wealthy investor willing to invest $1 billion. The pair ran their scheme by telling possible investors of a program run by the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise funds for humanitarian work, such as natural disaster relief. The Reserve would then out-source the funds to a Swiss banker who would manage the money in an offshore account.

Although the pair will not be sentenced until February 1, 2013, they face a max sentence of 160 years- 20 years on each of the eight counts.

In addition to Ferry and Clinton, six other men were indicted in the case. In fact, Paul Martin, of New Jersey, was previously convicted of the same offenses in a separate trial. Martin is the former senior vice president and managing director of Bankers Trust. Of the other five indicted, two pleaded guilty, one was acquitted, one had all charges dismissed by the government, and one remains a fugitive.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice’s criminal division took time after the trial to highlight how important undercover work is to stopping those engaging in fraud schemes before they get away with the life savings of innocent victims.

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