Ten Year Prison Sentence for Man who Operated $145 Million Ponzi Scheme

A Utah man who masterminded one of the largest Ponzi schemes in state history was sentenced to serve ten years in federal prison.  Travis L. Wright had previously pled guilty to a single count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison, along with up to a $250,000 fine.  The sentence comes nearly six months after United States District Judge Clark Waddoups rejected a previous plea agreement that would have seen Wright receive an eight-year prison sentence.  While the move would have theoretically allowed Wright to withdraw his guilty plea, both parties had indicated their intention to seek a new arrangement that would be acceptable to the court.  Federal sentencing guidelines had called for a prison term of up to 188 months.  Wright was also ordered to pay $43.2 million in restitution to his victims

Wright managed Waterford Funding, a real estate loan fund. Prospective investors were told that their investments would be placed in a fund and used to make loans for commercial real estate projects.  Investors were sold promissory notes carrying promised annual returns ranging from eight to forty-four percent.  In total, over $145 million was raised from 175 investors.  However, Wright only used a small percentage of the funds to make the promised loans, which authorities estimate did not exceed 10% of total investor funds.  The remainder was used for several purposes, including the payment of fictitious profits to investors, and the expenditure of $15 million to support a lavish lifestyle that included the purchase of a former NBA basketball players home and $20,000 in monthly spending money for his wife.

While not binding, Wright will likely serve his sentence at a federal correctional facility in California.