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O.C. man sentenced 10 years for Ponzi scheme

ABC7 Eyewitness News HD covering Los Angeles and Southern California.

May 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Orange County man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his role in a $61 million Ponzi scheme.James Halstead, 63, of Tustin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carter ordered Halstead to pay $14 million in restitution. That money represents the amount of losses directly attributed to Halstead.

On September 28, 2009, Halstead plead guilty to wire fraud and mail fraud. He admitted that he worked with Irvine attorney, Jeanne Rowzee, 50, to bilk victims who thought they were investing in public and private investment programs.

Halstead and Rowzee promised returns of 25 percent to 35 percent every three to four months. Victims were told that their money would be used to fund short-term loans. Halstead and Rowzee claimed they had never lost money in this type of investment. Halstead and Rowzee told victims that Rowzee was an experienced securities attorney and had previously worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investigators say in reality, the victims' money was never invested. Halstead and Rowzee instead used the money to make Ponzi payments to investors.

Rowzee is scheduled to be sentenced December 13, at which time she faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.


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