A New York man pleaded guilty to fraud charges for masterminding a Ponzi scheme that bilked victims out of $6 million. Alan Ritter, 69, appeared in a New York federal court today where he agreed to plead guilty to three counts of wire fraud. Wire fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of twenty years as well as criminal monetary penalties. According to Ritter's attorney, Ritter's gambling problem was "the root cause of these really awful acts."
Since 2001, Ritter used his position as a self-employed accountant to solicit funds towards various business investments from clients and personal friends. As Ritter continued to receive funds from investors, the majority of incoming funds were used to make Ponzi-style payments on the loans and for personal expenses that apparently included a penchant for gambling.
The guilty plea to three charges of wire fraud is on the high side for sentencing based on the amount of victim losses. While it is highly unlikely that Ritter's eventual sentence will be anywhere near the maximum sentence of sixty years, it is likely that the sentence could be a life sentence given Ritter's age.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 16, 2013. While it is likely restitution will be ordered to Ritter's victims, his attorney has indicated that Ritter is destitute.