A Miami man was arraigned Monday on charges that he operated a Ponzi scheme that ultimately cost investors $1.75 million. Fidel Bermudez, 43, pled not guilty to multiple counts of grand theft and security fraud after being extradited from Miami where he was arrested on June 15, 2011.
State prosecutors alleged that Bermudez solicited investors from the congregation at the Church of God in Simi Valley, California. From 2004 until 2007, Bermudez promised high returns while assuring investors that their investments were risk-free. As later investors placed their money with Bermudez, earlier investors were paid with these proceeds disguised as interest payments.
Bermudez faces up to 17 years in state prison if convicted of the charges. Bail has been set at $500,000, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 7. From the charges levied against Bermudez, it appears that only state charges are currently pending. Federal charges may be forthcoming depending on the nature of the scheme.