Budget Finance Company Owner Sentenced to 121 Months for $31 Million Ponzi Scheme
WHEELING, W. Va. – Donna S. Brown, 65, of Clarington, Ohio, was sentenced by Senior Judge Frederick P. Stamp in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia today to 121 months in prison for defrauding investors of more than 800 investment accounts totaling more than $31 million. Brown, who owned Budget Finance Company in New Martinsville, W. Va., was sentenced for charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, to which she had entered pleas of guilty on October 24, 2016.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Raymond P. Duda, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Pittsburgh Field Division; Thomas J. Holloman, Interim Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office; Tommy Coke, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia State Auditor and Securities Commissioner Lisa Hopkins; Commissioner Andrea Seidt of the Ohio Division of Securities; Acting Commissioner Dawn Holstein of the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions; and Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught announced the sentence handed down today.
According to court documents, Brown owned and operated Budget Finance company which was both a licensed consumer loan company and an unlicensed investment company. Between 2005 and 2015, she lured potential investors into investing funds with Budget Finance by promising annual returns of between eight and 12 percent.
Brown mailed checks to investors who requested periodic payments and sent them fraudulent quarterly investment statements reflecting their account balances and interest paid. She also mailed investors IRS 1099 forms, but never sent those forms to the IRS.
Brown abruptly closed the doors of Budget Finance without warning in November 2015.
The actual losses in this case currently are estimated to be somewhere between $9.5 million and $25 million, and the crimes resulted in substantial financial hardship to many of the investor/victims.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the agencies and Assistant United States Attorney Daniel A. Brown and Deputy Criminal Chief Brenda Shoemaker, who are representing the United States in this case.