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21-Year Sentence For Ponzi Scheme Co-Conspirator

Courtesy of the US Attorney's Office of the Western District of North Carolina

An Ohio man has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for his role in a North Carolina based Ponzi scheme. He’s also been ordered to pay more than $20 million in restitution.

Fifty-year-old Jonathan Davey is a certified public accountant and a registered investment advisor. Using those credentials he helped lure some of the 400 victims from around the country that took part in a Ponzi scheme dubbed 'Black Diamond.'

Kurt Meyers, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, says Black Diamond was cooked up by a man named Keith Franklin Simmons. Simmons told would-be investors he had a group of ex-generals and other high ranking officials who would help with foreign currency investments. Meyers says Simmons guaranteed that he "could achieve extraordinary returns" from the arrangement. Simmons was the mastermind behind the Ponzi scheme. But others, like Davey helped sell it. "And with the help of co-conspirators he brought in more than $40 million," says Meyers.

Simmons has already been sentenced to 40 years in prison. In explaining the 21 year sentence for Davey, U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad sighted the hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people swept into the scheme.

Kurt Meyers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office recalls the story of one such victim. "Always working a minimum of three jobs over her life, and never buying anything new, she did save up over a $1 million." But her money wasn't doing well in the stock market adds Meyers, so "she gave it to Black Diamond and she lost it all."

In all 11 people have been sentenced for their role in the Black Diamond scheme to date.