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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 16, 2014

West Chester Woman Charged In Real Estate Ponzi Scheme

PHILADELPHIA – Marie Mikesche Bontigao, 43, of West Chester, PA, was charged by indictment, unsealed yesterday, in a fraud scheme involving more than $2 million, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.  She is charged with wire and mail fraud.   

Bontigao was a licensed real estate broker who operated a franchise location of EXIT Realty in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware and was the founder of the EXIT Realty “Tri-State Group: and “Tri-State Investment Holdings, Inc.” (T.R.I.H.I.). According to the indictment, between 2007 and 2013, Bontigao solicited individuals to invest in her real estate projects but, instead of investing the lenders’ money in real estate used the funds to operate her business and to pay personal expenses.  Bontigao allegedly bilked these lenders out of more than $2 million.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 80 years in prison, a three-year period of supervised release, and a $1 million fine.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Denise S. Wolf.

An Indictment or Information is an accusation.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Click here to view the indictment.

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525

Updated December 15, 2014