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Press Release

Brevard County Men Sentenced to More Than 10 Years for Operating $18 Million Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Orlando, FL – Senior U.S. District Judge John Antoon, II today sentenced Donald Ray Babb (58, Merritt Island) and Ralph Victor Ruth (61, Melbourne) to ten years and one month in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The Court also ordered the forfeiture of their interest in the following properties: 422 Waterside Drive, Merritt Island, FL; 3502 Tipperary Drive, Merritt Island, FL; 3661 Turtle Mound Road, Melbourne, FL; 312 Sycamore Circle, Warne, NC; and 3498 NC Highway 60, Murphy, NC, which were traceable to proceeds of the offense. As part of their sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $18,731,125.58, the proceeds of the conspiracy, and ordered restitution in the amount of $9,728,968.48. Both pleaded guilty on November 12, 2014.

According to court documents, between June 2006 and December 2013, Babb and Ruth orchestrated a scheme in Brevard County that ultimately defrauded approximately 181 investors out of $18.7 million. Doing business as Southeast Mutual Insurance and Investment, LLC, Capstar Industries, LLC, and First Merchant Capital, LLC, Babb and Ruth falsely represented their businesses as licensed financial institutions whose deposits were insured by the FDIC. Using these entities, they advertised risk-free Certificates of Deposit (CDs) investment opportunities that yielded high rates of return. However, neither Babb nor Ruth ever purchased a CD for an investor. Instead, they used the money to make payments to earlier investors in the scheme, and to purchase real estate and other luxury items for themselves.

This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Haas.

Updated February 5, 2015