A Florida man received a 90-year prison sentence for running a $2.7 million Ponzi scheme - a sentence believed to be one of the longest in history in Ponzi scheme jurisprudence. James Jackson Jr., 48, received three 30-year sentences, to be served consecutively, after a jury convicted him of 33 grand theft and forgery charges. Each of Jackson's victims was over 50, and with 10 of the 33 victims being older than 65. Jackson's sentence ranks as the third-longest Ponzi scheme prison sentence to be handed down, behind only infamous schemers Allen Stanford and Bernard Madoff. While Jackson will be eligible for parole after serving 85% of his sentence due to his prosecution by the state, the sentence is almost certain to be a life sentence due to his age.
Beginning in January 2008, Jackson used his two companies, American Senior Advisory Group and Covenant Planning Group, to solicit elderly victims under the guise that their investment would be entrusted to a company called AFG to generate regular interest payments. Jackson showed investors purported emails showing that their funds were delivered to a man named Matthew Turner at AFG, and also provided "deposit agreements" supposedly signed by local attorneys. Some victims then began receiving regular interest payments from Jackson as evidence of the investment's legitimacy, and ultimately approximately 33 victims entrusted nearly $3 million with Jackson and his companies.
However, the "Matthew Turner" supposedly employed at AFG and overseeing investor funds did not exist, and Jackson was accused of operating a Ponzi scheme by using new investor funds to pay returns to existing investors. In addition to the Ponzi payments, Jackson also misappropriated investor funds for his own personal use, including more than $500,000 in gambling losses at the Hard Rock Casino and transfers to family members, girlfriends, and an ex-wife. Jackson was ultimately arrested in January 2012 and more charged were added as additional victims were located. As of this past July, Jackson has returned approxiamtely $400,000 to victims while more than $1.8 million remains unpaid.
Should Jackson's sentence stand (if appealed), he will become the newest member of the Wall Street Journal's recent "Reordering of the Top 10 White Collar Crime Prison Sentences," where his sentence would place him in sole possession of 8th place and above the 50-year sentences handed down to noted Ponzi schemers Scott Rothstein and Thomas Petters. The sentence would also be the longest sentence handed down to a Florida Ponzi schemer.