A Texas man has pled guilty to federal charges for his role in a Ponzi scheme that ultimately took in $100 million from hundreds of investors around the country. Gregory W. Thompson, 58, entered guilty pleas to charges of securities fraud and money laundering that, under federal sentencing guidelines could result in a prison sentence of up to eight years for Thompson. Thompson had originally been charged in an eighteen-count indictment that was later reduced to seven counts.
Thompson was part of a group of six individuals involved with Horizon Establishment, which purported to invest in high-yield programs with foreign banks and promised investors monthly returns ranging from five to eight years. The group ultimately took in more than $100 million of investor contributions. The head of the scheme, Travis Correll, pled guilty in 2007 to a single wire fraud charge and is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence. Prosecutors allege that Thompson personally collected $20 million from 40 investors, some of whom were members at his church. Instead of investing, Thompson used the funds to pay personal expenses, including the mortgage of his now-defunct company, and to pay returns to older investors.
Thompson and the remaining participants have settled charges with the SEC, which froze the operation's assets in 2005. Sentencing is scheduled for October 26, where it is likely Thompson will also be ordered to pay restitution to defrauded investors.