A 26-year old south Florida man is expected to plead guilty to criminal charges that he masterminded a $10 million Ponzi scheme that financed a his worldwide jet-setting lifestyle. Donald R. French Jr., 26, is scheduled to appear before a Florida federal judge on March 15, 2013 to enter a plea agreement to at least one of the criminal charges he currently faces, which include single counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Each charges carries a maximum sentence of up to twenty years in prison as well as criminal penalties.
French formed D3 Capital Management, LLC ("D3") in early 2008 (when he was just 21 years old) in the upscale Mizner Park shopping area of Boca Raton, Florida. The company advertised itself as the 'premier provider of global investment management,' and told potential investors they could expect annual returns of up to 50% through a variety of unconventional investments including the purchase and resale of precious stones, solar energy, and foreign currencies. In total, nearly 30 investors entrusted French and D3 with approximately $10 million - including nearly $2 million from one single investor.
However, the supposed address in Mizner Park was nothing more than a mailing address and phone number designed to appeal to the wealthy contingent of south Floridians no doubt familiar with the implications such an upscale address carried. Instead, French invested only a small amount of investor funds, using the majority of funds to fund a playboy lifestyle that included residences in Boca Raton and Rome, frequent foreign travel, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling losses at popular Las Vegas casinos. French later bounced more than $600,000 in checks in attempts to pay off gambling losses at the Cosmopolitan casino, which resulted in the filing of bad check charges.
Authorities arrested French this past summer in South Africa on the outstanding Nevada bad check charges, where French later pled guilty in exchange for a 30-month prison sentence. He was then extradited back to South Florida.
French is expected in court on March 15, 2013 for a change of plea hearing.