August 24, 2009
BELLAIRE RESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY IN MULTIMILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT FRAUD
(HOUSTON) – Melissa Marie Ramon, 33, of Bellaire, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with her operation of a fraudulent investment scheme, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Ramon pleaded guilty this morning at a hearing before United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov, 30, 2009, when Ramon faces a prison term of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution of approximately $3,080,000. Ramon has been in federal custody since June 15, when Judge Gilmore revoked her bond after the United States presented evidence showing that, while on bond, Ramon had defrauded people seeking to rent her home.
According to the factual basis in Ramon’s plea agreement, from August 2004 through March 2007, Ramon solicited individuals to invest in an entity she called JaxTrece. Ramon falsely represented to investors that JaxTrece was a Paris-based international investment firm with thousands of investors and hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. Ramon told investors that JaxTrece provided bridge loans to nonprofit organizations which would be repaid with interest when pending grants were funded. Ramon also falsely told investors she was on the Board of JaxTrece and held a doctorate from Rice University. In fact, JaxTrece did not exist and Ramon did not attend college. Ramon obtained more than $4 million from investors during the scheme, money which she did not loan to nonprofits but instead spent on personal items such as a Bellaire home, a second home in Wyoming and vacations.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Texas State Securities Board. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg Costa.
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