Recidivist Fraudster Charged With Fraud And Identity Theft In Connection With Real Estate Investment Ponzi Scheme
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging WILSON BASTON, a/k/a “Chanon Gordon,” a/k/a “William Baston,” a/k/a “Jackie Wilson,” with wire fraud, securities fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to defraud investors in a series of purported real estate investments managed by BASTON and the entity Gordon Management Group (“GMG”). BASTON was arrested this morning in New York and was presented in federal court this afternoon.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Wilson Baston used a fake name to conceal his prior convictions and to solicit more than $10 million as part of a series of brazen real estate scams against innocent New Yorkers. Today’s arrest demonstrates this Office’s commitment to stopping recidivist fraudsters like Baston and to seeking justice for victims of financial frauds.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “As alleged, the defendant ran a fraudulent scheme which used funds intended for real estate investment to repay other investors or use on lavish personal expenses. This fraud, like many Ponzi schemes, guaranteed large returns on investment, but proved too good to be true. The FBI will continue to ensure that fraudsters are held responsible for their scams in the criminal justice system.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
Between 2018 and 2023, WILSON BASTON engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in a series of purported real estate investments managed by GMG. In order to defraud his investors, BASTON falsely represented that he would use investor money to fund real estate transactions in the New York City area. However, in truth and in fact, BASTON operated GMG as a Ponzi scheme. Rather than use investment contributions to fund real estate transactions as he promised, BASTON instead used funds from new and existing investors to repay money that was owed to other investors. BASTON also misappropriated investor funds by spending them on personal expenses such as payments to a luxury carmaker.
BASTON typically made false promises of guaranteed short-term, high rates of return on investments in real estate deals, with additional guarantees on the principal investment. On many occasions, BASTON initially repaid both the principal and interest as promised to garner trust with his investors and entice them to continue investing in GMG — and in many cases, to invest additional, larger sums of money. BASTON then ceased paying the victims the promised interest and did not return the principal on the deals they had invested in.
Eventually, when victims began to complain to BASTON about not getting their money as promised, BASTON provided increasingly outlandish excuses and avoided responding to their inquiries. At times, BASTON also gave false excuses and explanations as to why the investors had not been paid.
In some instances, BASTON paid investors with the funds he received from existing investors, or the funds of new investors, rather than from any purported investments, in a Ponzi-like fashion. BASTON also used certain investment funds for personal expenditures. Further, in order to avoid detection and falsely instill confidence in his investors, BASTON, who was previously convicted in federal court of 17 counts of mail and wire fraud for operating a similar fraudulent investment scheme, hid his true identity and the fact of his prior conviction from his investors by falsely representing that his name was “Chanon Gordon.”
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WILSON BASTON, 62, of Brooklyn, New York, is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a two-year mandatory sentence in addition to any sentence imposed.
The statutory maximum and mandatory penalties in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the FBI on the investigation. Mr. Williams further thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance and cooperation in this investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Rossmiller and Nicholas Folly are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth in this release constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.