A Hawaii woman who told investors that she had been "bestowed by Jesus Christ to with the ability to trade commodities", but instead operated a Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to federal prison on Friday. Kapua Keolanui, 36, was sentenced to thirty-three months in federal prison by United States District Judge David Ezra, who called her behavior callous and also ordered her to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution to her victims. Keolanui, who had previously pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, was sentenced to the maximum sentence under federal sentencing guidelines. Wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of up to twenty years in federal prison.
The scheme derives out of Keolanui's association with Rachelle and Perry Griggs, who were recently sentenced to prison for masterminding the scheme. Previous Ponzitracker coverage of the Griggs is here. Perry Griggs became associated with Keolanui's husband when both were incarcerated; ironically, Perry Griggs was serving time for his role in a previous Ponzi scheme. Through his relationship with Keolanui's husband, Perry Griggs convinced Keolanui to form Paradise Trading, LLC with Rachelle Griggs in late 2006. Keolanui then solicited friends and family, telling them that she had been given the gift of finding money by Jesus Christ. In total, six different individuals gave Keolanui over $1 million to invest. Instead of using the money to invest, Keolanui funnelled some of the money to Aloha Trading, which was Perry Grigg's operation that he was running from behind prison walls. When Grigg's scheme was uncovered, nearly all of the victims' money had disappeared.
Keolanui was scheduled to report to prison on November 28, 2011. She was also ordered to three years of probation upon release from prison.
A copy of the Complaint filed against Griggs and Aloha Trading by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is here.