Continuing a recent spate of harsh sentences for sub-$25 million Ponzi schemes, a Cincinnati man receiving his sentence in the third jurisdiction that prosecutued him for a $9 million Ponzi scheme was sentenced to serve 40 years in state prison. Jason Snelling, 48, had earlier pleaded guilty to twenty-five charges that included securities fraud, unlawful acts in the sale of securities, and failure to register as a broker-dealer. Franklin Circuit II Judge Clay Kellerman handed down an eight-year sentence for each of five criminal events, but rather than ordering the terms to be served concurrently (at the same time), Judge Kellerman decided that the sentences would be served consecutively. This is Snelling's third conviction for his role in the scheme, having previously received a six-year sentence from an Ohio state judge and an eleven-year term by an Ohio federal judge. He was also ordered to pay $5.3 million in restitution, as well as forfeit various personal property acquired using scheme proceeds.
Snelling, along with partner Jerry Smith, operated Dunhill Investment Advisers and CityFund Advisory in downtown Cincinnati, where they promised lucrative returns through purported day-trading. The two offered guaranteed rates of return ranging from ten to fifteen percent, with some investors receiving higher promised rates. To assure investors of the safety of their funds, Snelling and Smith represented that their position would be liquidated to cash at the end of each trading day. In total, the scheme raised nearly $9 million from seventy-two investors. But instead of engaging in day-trading, Snelling and Smith spent the majority of investor funds to sustain an exorbitant lifestyle that consisted of boats, jet skis, plastic surgery, and private school tuition.
Authorities arrested the pair last summer. Snelling and Smith later pled guilty to federal charges, and a federal judge later sentenced him to serve eleven years. Smith is currently awaiting two state court trials on securities fraud charges.
It is unclear which sentence Snelling will begin serving first. While there is no parole in the federal prison system, Snelling will be eligible for parole and a variety of sentence reductions for his state prison sentences.