Miami-area woman charged in $4.6 million Ponzi scheme plans to plead guilty to fraud




  • In US
  • 2022-09-28 11:41:24Z
  • By Miami Herald
 

A Biscayne Park woman has been charged with running a $4.6 million Ponzi scheme and swindling hundreds of Haitian-American investors in South Florida, but she is expected to plead guilty to resolve the case, according to federal court records and her attorney.

Judith Dianne Paris-Pinder, 49, is accused of pocketing about half that amount for herself, including using the money for a wedding, vacations and other entertainment, and of using the rest of it to keep her investors at bay until the scheme unraveled, authorities said.

Paris-Pinder was able to lure investors by promising them up to 50 percent returns, federal prosecutors said. About 280 investors provided millions of dollars in loans as advances to people who were purportedly represented by lawyers and were going to receive insurance company settlements, prosecutors said. But there were no claims, no lawyers and no settlements, prosecutors said.

Now, Paris-Pinder is willing to admit the whole thing was a con to get rich, her attorney said.

"From the onset of my representation, there was an intention for my client to amicably resolve her situation," Miami attorney Scott Bennett Saul told the Miami Herald on Tuesday. "She has a genuine acceptance of responsibility, is sorry for what had transpired and plans on being cooperative with the government."

Paris-Pinder, who was charged by "information" with wire fraud, pleaded not guilty for now and was granted a $200,000 bond in Miami federal court on Monday. Separately, she has been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the same court.

Although on much smaller in scale, Paris-Pinder's scheme was similar to that of disbarred Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein, who operated a massive $1.2 billion Ponzi scam more than a decade ago. He was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison for 50 years.

Paris-Pinder was formerly the president of Pinder Associates Inc., a North Miami company. Prosecutors allege that from November 2019 to October 2021, she told potential investors in the Haitian-American community that she was working with lawyers representing plaintiffs who had settled their claims but were still waiting for actual settlement payments from the insurance companies.

Paris-Pinder told the investors that she would use their funds to loan the plaintiffs a portion of their purported settlements, prosecutors said.

Once the plaintiffs received the purported payments from the insurance companies, they would turn the entire amount over to Paris-Pinder, prosecutor Eric Morales said in the information. In turn, she would pay back the investors' initial loan contributions plus any returns, which could be as high as 50 percent, he said.

"According to the charges, however, the entire investment scenario was a scam," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release.

The Ponzi scheme investigation was led by the FBI in South Florida.

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