Lehigh Valley Attorney Sentenced for Orchestrating $2.7 Million Ponzi Scheme That Targeted His Own Clients to Invest in Fake Business Opportunities
PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Todd H. Lahr, 60, of Nazareth, PA, was sentenced to six and one half years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,106,918 in restitution by United States District Court Judge Edward G. Smith for orchestrating a $2.7 million Ponzi scheme and securities fraud that targeted his own law clients, and involved the fraudulent sale of the securities of two entities, THL Holdings, LLC and Ferran Global Holdings, Inc.
Lahr, an attorney licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, and with offices in Allentown, pleaded guilty in April 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud, and four counts of wire fraud. In furtherance of his fraudulent schemes, the defendant solicited investments from his clients, telling them that their money would be used for a variety of business opportunities which were, in fact, nonexistent (like mining operations in Papua New Guinea, the acquisition of the shares of a penny stock, and property leases in Spain and England). In reality, the money was used for Lahr’s personal expenses and to make Ponzi-scheme payments to prior investors. Among these personal expenses were his home mortgage, his child’s school tuition, utility bills, and other personal debt. Total investor losses are estimated to be over $2.7 million.
Even after he was caught, Lahr continued his deception by lying in sworn testimony before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In this testimony, Lahr denied writing checks to his personal accounts when, in fact, he had written at least 25 separate checks to himself over a three-year period.
Last month, the SEC filed a parallel civil enforcement action to the criminal charges listed above, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, based on the same course of conduct. In this SEC civil case, the court has entered judgment against Lahr, ordering injunctive relief and disgorgement and prejudgment interest.
“Lahr took advantage of the very people he had an obligation to represent in good faith: his own clients,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “Stealing millions of dollars from people paying him for a professional services, legal counsel and expert judgment is reprehensible. My Office will continue to aggressively pursue securities and other financial frauds, particularly when perpetrated by lawyers and other professionals who are obligated to respect the law and protect their clients.”
“Todd Lahr’s clients trusted him,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Lahr knew that and used it to his devious advantage, selling them on bogus investment opportunities and pocketing those funds. After years of living off of other people’s money, he’s finally being held accountable. The FBI will continue to shut down crooks like this, to help find justice for their victims and prevent anyone else from being harmed.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Rinaldi and Trial Attorney Philip B. Trout of the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section. The U.S. Attorney’s Office appreciates the substantial assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in this matter.