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Man sentenced in $21 million Ponzi scheme

January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A San Clemente man has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than $21 million.John Anthony Miller, 52, was sentenced Monday afternoon. Last March, he pleaded guilty to bribery, passport fraud, identity fraud and a mail fraud count in the Ponzi scheme.

In court Monday, 15 of his victims testified about what it was like to lose their life savings in the Ponzi scheme that Miller operated through his Newport Beach-based investment companies, JAM Jr. Enterprises and Forte Financial Partners.

The U.S. Attorney's office says he defrauded more than 130 people, taking millions of dollars from some victims who withdrew the money from their retirement savings or borrowed money against their homes.

Miller made promises of guaranteed annual returns of as much as 18 percent, telling investors their money would be invested in foreign currency trading, oil wells, real estate and other vehicles. He provided them with monthly account statements that falsely showed they were earning promising returns. In reality, Miller never earned any real profits from his investment activity.

Prosecutors said: "He didn't just solicit fraudulent investments through mailing or mass marketing, like many fraudsters do. He didn't just interact with victims over the telephone or at investment seminars, like many others. (Miller) lied to people in person, up close, sitting in their living rooms, or at their kitchen tables, knowing full well the vulnerability of his victims and the inevitable devastation his deceit would cause them."