“What’s clear is he isn’t going to get 2 to 6 years. He didn’t pay back one cent.”
- Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon.
A convicted Ponzi schemer who agreed to pay pre-sentencing restitution to his victims in exchange for a reduced prison term landed in hot water with a New York State Judge last week after he failed to pay a single cent of the promised restitution. Steven Bingaman, 57, had previously pled guilty to 23 counts of grand larceny, money laundering, forgery and securities fraud before Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon. In an agreement with prosecutors, Bingaman agreed to pay over $1 million in pre-sentencing restitution to his victims in return for a reduced prison term of two-to-six years. However, after it was revealed at sentencing that not 'one penny' of restitution had been paid, Judge Solomon delayed sentencing and later doubled Bingaman's punishment to a four-to-twelve year sentence.
Bingaman solicited investors through a variety of ventures, including a telecommunications company called Appleby Telecommunications LLC and raising funds for an unnamed investment project. Investors were promised above-average returns and told that their investment would be 'liquid' and kept in escrow and available for refund on short notice. In total, Bingaman raised more than $1.5 million from investors.
However, rather than investing investor funds or attempting to obtain financing, Bingaman misappropriated the funds for his own use to support a lavish lifestyle that included the payment of country club dues and mortgages on multiple homes. Additionally, Bingaman used investor funds to make Ponzi-like payments to other investors who thought they were receiving legitimate returns from the advertised investments.
Of note, Bingaman had previously lashed out at prosecutors after he was indicted, calling the accusations "salacious" and saying "The New York district attorney has terrorized my family and me for six months."