A Maryland man has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of more than $20 million.
U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis on Wednesday sentenced 53-year-old Bradley Mascho, of Frederick, to 30 months in federal prison. U.S. Attorney Robert Hur's office said in a news release that the judge also ordered Mascho to pay nearly $5 million in restitution.
In July, Xinis sentenced 56-year-old investment adviser Dawn Bennett to 20 years in prison for participating in the same fraud scheme.
Jurors heard testimony that Bennett used investors' money to buy astrological gems and cosmetic medical procedures and to pay more than $800,000 for prayers by Hindu priests in India to ward off federal investigators while her business was collapsing.
An FBI agent's affidavit said investigators found evidence in Bennett's home that she tried to silence U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigators by casting "hoodoo" spells.
A two-week trial last year resulted in Bennett's conviction on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud. Justice Department prosecutor Erin Pulice said Bennett defrauded 46 investors out of more than $20 million in less than three years.
Mascho pleaded guilty in June 2018 to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making a false statement.
Dennis Boyle, Bennett's defense attorney at trial, tried to depict Bennett as a fraud victim herself. Boyle said Bennett invested more than $8 million of her own money in her online business and relied on false financial numbers and records prepared by Mascho, her company's chief financial officer.
The FBI's investigation of Bennett began in December 2015 after the SEC formally accused her of defrauding investors by inflating the amount of assets she managed and exaggerating the returns on her customers' investments.
Prosecutors said Bennett didn't tell investors in her luxury sportswear company that she was using their money to pay off other investors or to cover personal expenses, including more than $141,000 on astrological gems, more than $100,000 on cosmetic medical procedures and a $500,000 annual lease for a luxury suite at the Dallas Cowboys' home stadium.