CELEBRITY REAL ESTATE EXPERT AND OTHER WOODBRIDGE EXECUTIVES ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH BILLION-DOLLAR PONZI SCHEME
ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUDULENT PRACTICES
71-year-old Robert Shapiro, head of a firm based in Sherman Oaks, has been accused of defrauding several investors in a Ponzi scheme worth $1.3 billion which he has allegedly been using in sponsoring his luxury lifestyle.
Following the accusation, he was arrested last Thursday together with two other associates connected to the crime which include Dane Rosman and Ivan Acevedo, 35 and 42 respectively. Both of them were former employees of Robert Shapiro. Dane Rosman lives in Encino, located in the San Fernando Valley area of LA. Ivan Acevedo also lives in a region of LA known as Chatsworth.
Shapiro who owns Woodbridge Group of Companies and two former company executives faced accusations of conspiring to commit fraud and other acts that amounted to violations of the law in an indictment last month. Robert Shapiro, Ivan Acevedo, and Dane R. Roseman were all arrested while they were at their homes.
They were taken to a Los Angeles federal court, and they pleaded not guilty. Acevedo and Roseman were subsequently released as the two of them got their release on bond, but Shapiro wasn’t released. The law enforcement agents searched his home, and the search warrant is still under seal.
SHAPIRO’S PONZI SCHEME
In 2017, the SEC accused Shapiro and his company, Woodbridge for a civil violation of some securities law and also recently filed a civil complaint against Acevado and Roseman last Thursday. They were slammed with accusations of violating different broker-deal registration, securities registrations and some federal law provisions against fraudulent activities. Shapiro’s attorney, Ryan O’Quinn stated in a comment that his client denies all the allegations contained in the indictment.
He added that his client would vigorously bring up his defence in the right forum. Acevedo’s attorney couldn’t be contacted for any comment, while Roseman’s attorney refused to give a comment despite multiple requests for same.
According to prosecutors, all Woodbridge’s offices across the US were part of the Ponzi scheme. That included its headquarters at Shearman Oaks and its previous headquarters at Boca Raton, Fla. The office of the U.S. attorney said that the company made use of high-pressure sale tactics in securing money for what they promised to be conservative and low-risk investments. However, the funds were channelled to Shapiro’s real estate. Eventually, the company ended up being financially insolvent, and Shapiro even considered bankruptcy filing in 2017.
That didn’t stop them as he, Acevado and Roseman reportedly kept on selling those fraudulent investments without disclosing to the investors that the company was close to folding up. Between October and December 2017, the company took on over $52 million from investors before they filed for bankruptcy later in December 2017.
NUMEROUS VICTIMS AFFECTED
According to the prosecutors, the bankruptcy filing made investors suffer huge losses. Not less than 2,600 persons put in their retirement savings which totalled to about $400 million. The prosecutors said that Shapiro took $35 million for his personal use.
He spent $3.1 million of the money to charter private plans for his trips, spent $6.7 million on purchasing a home, about $2.6 million for home improvements, his ex-wife got $1.4 million of the money he siphoned, and he used $1.8 million as taxes. He spent over $672,000 on acquiring luxury automobiles. Prosecutors said that Acevado got $1.1 million and Roseman got $2.5 million.