Sarasota Ponzi Schemer Marian Morgan Sentenced To Thirty-Five Years in Prison
Tampa, FL - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew today sentenced Marian I. Morgan (57, Sarasota) to 35 years in federal prison for conspiracy, wire fraud, interstate/foreign transportation of stolen funds, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. The court also ordered Morgan to pay restitution in the amount of $19,958,995.00. A federal jury found her guilty on September 29, 2011 after a 17-day trial.
Morgan was originally indicted on December 17, 2009, and was subsequently charged by a superseding indictment on May 31, 2011. Her husband, John Morgan, was also indicted. He pled guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges on June 15, 2011, and was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison on November 28, 2011.
“This case should send a clear message that crime, even under the guise of an elaborate scheme, will not go unpunished,” said U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill. “We will continue to prosecute those who utilize fraud and deception to deprive people of their hard-earned money. Hopefully, this case will heighten the awareness of those seeking to invest their dollars, as well.”
“This case shows that the appearance of success can be a mask for a tangled financial web of lies," said Linda J. Osuna, Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa field office of the IRS. "Ponzi schemes can thrive for a time on false claims about how the money is being invested and where the returns are coming from. But that time is gone, and as this sentence shows, it's time for those responsible to face judgment."
According to the evidence presented at trial, Marian and John Morgan, who resided in Sarasota, were principals of a company named Morgan European Holdings from approximately 2005 to 2009. They promoted sham "high yield/ prime bank note" investment programs through the company, promising investors that they would receive returns of 200-300% in three months and that their principal funds would be held safe in an escrow account in Denmark. Evidence at trial, however, showed that the Morgans spent more than $10 million of investor money on themselves soon after investors wired the funds to the escrow account. The Morgans purchased luxury automobiles, a waterfront mansion, and numerous luxury items with investor funds. When investors inquired about the status of their investments, Marian I. Morgan sent repeated "lulling" communications, assuring the investors that their funds were safe in the escrow account. Between 2005 and 2009, the evidence showed that the Morgans took in more than $28 million in investor funds and returned some funds in the form of "Ponzi" payments.
In June 2009, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an enforcement action in the Middle District of Florida against the Morgans and others alleging investment fraud. Trial evidence showed that in response to the SEC action, Marian I. Morgan told investors to lie to SEC and not cooperate with the agency. When she and her husband fled the United States and did not return as ordered for a hearing in that case on July 16, 2009, United States District Judge Richard Lazzara issued a warrant for their arrest. The Morgans were arrested in August 2009 in the island nation of Sri Lanka after attempting to pass a forged financial instrument and were returned by federal agents to the United States in December 2009.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with cooperation from the Danish National Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cherie L. Krigsman and Robert T. Monk.