CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST PURVEYORS OF PONZI SCHEME
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – James Wiederhold, 39, of Byron Center, Michigan, Anthony Rinkus, 32, of Key West, Florida, and Joseph Angioi, 44, of Ovideo, Florida, creators of several private hedge funds known collectively as the Atlas Fund, were indicted on numerous charges, including ten counts of wire fraud and four counts of securities fraud, announced U. S. Attorney Donald A. Davis. Wiederhold was also charged with three additional counts of securities fraud and five counts of bankruptcy fraud. Among the others charged were Wiederhold’s father, Neal Wiederhold, 62, of Grand Rapids, Michigan and his uncle, Larry Niewenhuis, 55, of East Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Indictment also seeks the forfeiture of over $800,000, which represents the proceeds of the alleged fraud.
U.S. Attorney Davis was joined in the announcement by FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez.
According to the Indictment, in 2008, Wiederhold, Rinkus, and Angioi created several private hedge funds, collectively known as Atlas Fund, and promised investors an extraordinary return through “hard money” lending, which they described as short-term, high interest loans targeting companies in desperate need of operating capital. The indictment alleges the defendants led investors to believe that the flagging U.S. economy and associated credit crisis created an opportunity to lend to business who were unable to obtain traditional financing. The Indictment further alleges that, while investors wired over $920,000 to the defendants for investment in “hard money” lending, Wiederhold, Rinkus, and Angioi instead took the money and used it to pay their personal expenses, prior debts, and“interest” payments back to investors. None of the money was ever invested, according to the Indictment. The Indictment also includes Wiederhold’s father and uncle as defendants because Wiederhold allegedly enlisted them to hide the defrauded investors’ money so as to avoid detection from Wiederhold’s many creditors, including an ongoing bankruptcy proceeding against Wiederhold resulting from a prior scheme to defraud.
"Investment Fraudsters use the appearance of success to mask their tangled financial web of lies,” said Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating Ponzi schemes in an effort to protect the financial well being of the American investor.”
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being prosecuted on behalf of the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney
Matthew G. Borgula and investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division.