RI Businesswoman Sentenced in $10M Ponzi Scheme that Defrauded 23 Individuals
PROVIDENCE – An East Greenwich attorney and businesswoman who duped family members, friends, and business associates as she operated a $10.3 million Ponzi scheme to help finance an extravagant lifestyle, including a $1 million home, numerous expensive trips abroad and multiple trips to the Super Bowl, and luxury items such as her collection of Louis Vuitton shoes, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence today to 8 years in federal prison and ordered to pay back her victims a total of $4.78 million.
Monique N. Brady, 45, whose company, MNB, specialized in preserving the condition of foreclosed homes for resale, previously admitted to the court that among those she defrauded were close friends in her community, a close friend from childhood and another from law school, a childcare provider for her children, an elderly Alzheimer’s patient, her step-brother, and three firefighters in the same city where her now ex-husband is employed as a firefighter.
As part of the scheme, Brady told investors that her company had secured contracts to perform large scale rehabilitation projects on foreclosed properties in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. She represented to a total of thirty-one investors that payments ranging from approximately $20,000 to $80,000 were needed to pay subcontractors to perform the work. In exchange for their investment, they were promised a return of fifty percent of the profit realized on the project they invested in. Many investors realized little or no return on their investment. Some investors invested in multiple projects.
In reality, MNB was hired by banks to perform menial tasks such as mowing grass, changing locks, winterizing properties, boiler or electrical inspections, and snow removal. The majority of projects secured by MNB were for less than $1,000. Many were for as little as $25 to a few hundred dollars.
To make potential investors believe she had secured contracts for large scale rehabilitation projects, Brady provided fraudulent emails purporting to be from a national property rehabilitation company claiming Brady had been approved to rehabilitate a property. Brady included in the emails fraudulent itemizations of work to be performed. Brady also included, without permission, the identity of an actual employee of the national property rehabilitation company in an attempt to make the emails appear authentic.
By the time the scheme ended after its discovery in the summer of 2018, twenty-three individuals had lost approximately $4.8 million to Brady. An investigation by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation revealed that of the 171 properties for which Brady solicited and received funds from investors, 98 were for properties her company was never hired to preserve, on which no work was performed.
“Monique Brady took advantage of the trust many, many people put in her, with total disregard for the path of personal pain and financial ruin she left behind. Her conduct was reprehensible and heartbreaking,” said United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman.
“I commend the hard work of investigators from IRS Criminal Investigation and FBI who put a stop to Monique Brady and her schemes, and the prosecution team of attorneys from our office and from the Department of Justice’s tax division that held her accountable. I hope the significant sentence imposed today by Chief Judge McConnell will bring some measure of justice to the many victims of Monique Brady.”
“Monique Brady operated a multi-year scheme in which her victims included some of her closest friends, a relative, and many others with whom she had community ties. Equally disturbing to the scheme is Brady’s attempt to cover her misdeeds by asking those same victims to delete and destroy the very evidence that would eventually lead to her prosecution.” said Special Agent in Charge Kristina O’Connell. “Though Brady’s victims have suffered both financial and emotional losses, I hope that today’s sentencing leaves them comforted by the fact that justice has been served.”
“The nearly two dozen people Monique Brady defrauded of millions included family, first responders, neighbors, childhood pals, and elders in the grips of dementia – people who trusted her to invest their life savings, only to be left with empty bank accounts and grief,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “We at the FBI hope the victims find some measure of comfort in today’s sentence. “
Brady also admitted to attempting to obstruct an Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation when, after being told by IRS criminal investigators she was under investigation, she asked investors to delete or destroy all email correspondence, texts, and documents relating to their investments in MNB rehabilitation projects.
According to court documents, after Brady became aware of the investigation, she and her paramour, a Rhode Island attorney, secured a meeting with the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General and the Rhode Island State Police, requesting they investigate the victims of this case for usury.
As the case proceeded toward federal indictment, Brady purchased a one way ticket to Vietnam. Once the FBI discovered Ms. Brady’s intention to leave the country, she moved her flight to an earlier departure date. Ms. Brady was arrested one day before her scheduled flight.
Ms. Brady pleaded guilty on July 11, 2019, to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstructing an IRS investigation.
At sentencing today, U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., sentenced Brady to 96 months imprisonment, 3 years’ supervised release, and ordered her to pay restitution to the victims totaling approximately $4.8 million.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lee Vilker of the District of Rhode Island and Trial Attorney Christopher O’Donnell of the Tax Division.