Ashburn Man Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme Involving Purchase of Beacon Hill Golf Course
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Brett A. Amendola, 37, of Ashburn, Va., pled guilty today to defrauding more than $3.8 million from investors through a Ponzi scheme involving his purported purchase of a golf course in Loudoun County, Va.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Michael L. Chapman, Loudoun County Sheriff, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.
Amendola pled guilty today to wire fraud and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 29, 2012.
According to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, during 2010 and 2011, Amendola persuaded various investors to provide him with short-term funding that would be held in escrow to fulfill a requirement by his lender to purchase the Beacon Hill Golf Course in Loudoun County. He promised that the money would be returned to the investors – with interest – in a matter of days. In reality, Amendola diverted the investors’ money to his own use, including funding his and family members’ trading accounts, making payments to investors in this and other schemes, and paying for personal expenses.
To carry out his fraud, Amendola posed as the attorney representing the escrow account both over the phone and through various email messages, leading investors to believe that they were wiring funds to financial accounts controlled by the escrow attorney, when in reality the financial accounts were controlled by Amendola and quickly looted for his personal use.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney James P. Gillis is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.