Local Man Sentenced For Running $8.7 Million Ponzi Scheme
CINCINNATI – John R. Bullar, 53, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was sentenced to 100 months in prison, three years of supervised release, was ordered to forfeit $535,408.68, and was ordered to pay approximately $6.2 million in restitution to the victims for committing wire fraud and money laundering relative to a fraudulent investment scheme that he ran for 10 years. Bullar previously pleaded guilty to the aforementioned charges on September 23, 2014.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Commissioner Andrea Seidt, Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Securities and Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett.
According to court documents, between 2003 and September 2013 Bullar devised a scheme to defraud investors by soliciting millions of dollars under false pretenses, failing to invest investors' funds as promised, and misappropriating and converting investors' funds for his own benefit without the knowledge or authorization of the investors.
Bullar was the sole owner and operator of Executive Management Advisors, LLC ("EMA"), which had its principal place of business in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bullar also was the sole owner and operator of Priapus Group, LLC. Since at least 1998, Bullar offered investment opportunities to investors through his company, EMA. Bullar marketed himself as someone experienced in the financial services industry and who was successful in investing in commodity futures.
In an effort to persuade individuals to invest with him, Bullar frequently made numerous false representations. For example, Bullar told potential clients that he never had a losing quarter. Bullar also offered potential investors a false sense of security by telling potential investors that he, himself, was the biggest investor in EMA. Bullar told the investors that he would manage their funds even though it was below his minimum level of investment.
The majority of Bullar’s investors were friends, family members and fellow church members. Bullar told his clients that he had invested their money in precious metals, gold, silver, bonds, and foreign currency and that he made money based on the volatility of the market, regardless of whether the market was up or down. Bullar told clients that he preferred to keep the number of his investor’s small, so that he could "fly under the radar." Bullar also told clients that he had a computerized algorithm system that monitored the market for patterns and alerted him to potential losses. Bullar told investors that although he had been offered millions of dollars for the system he would not sell it, because he could make more money using the system rather than selling it. These representations were false, however, because in reality, Bullar had invested only a small amount of the money that he received from clients, using the vast majority of the money to pay other investors and his own personal expenses.
To induce current clients to keep investing, Bullar provided investors with quarterly statements purporting to show their account balances. These statements often showed substantial gains over a short period of time.
Although Bullar collected over $8.7 million from investors between mid-2006 and September 2013, only $580,500.00 was sent to brokers for trading. The remaining $8.1 million was never invested at all. The small fraction of investor money that Bullar actually sent to brokers for trading failed to generate profits and the money was either lost via trading or later withdrawn by Bullar.
In addition, investors actually paid taxes on the fictitious earnings. Bullar caused Forms 1099 to be issued to investors for tax purposes, which reported the fictitious gains. Investors relied on these documents to file their tax returns and investors paid taxes on the fictitious gains reported to them.
Bullar furthered his scheme by creating an appearance of legitimacy. Bullar created an investment blog for his clients (www.emafutures.com), which he updated regularly, sharing various articles and reports about the market. Bullar outfitted his home office, which investors frequented, with a television and three computer monitors to give investors the impression that he was constantly monitoring the market. Bullar’s expansive 5 bedroom/5 bathroom home also gave investors the impression that he was a successful trading advisor. In addition, Bullar also purchased an adjoining lot with investor money and used investor money to remodel the cabin on the lot, install a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen, and pay for professional landscaping on the lot. Bullar also entertained groups of investors at his home, treating investors to lavish dinners and paying for some investors to vacation with him.
In addition, Bullar used investor money to pay for the mortgage on his home, vacations, country club dues, boats, jet skis, sports tickets, and vehicles, among other things.
“Today's sentencing demonstrates how federal law enforcement, along with our State and Local law enforcement partners, band together to help put an end to the criminal behavior of those who prey on investors for their personal financial gain. IRS Criminal investigators will continue to use their financial expertise to identify and trace laundered funds in these types of investor fraud schemes,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the coordination of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Emily N. Glatfelter, who represented the United States in this case. U.S. Attorney Stewart also thanked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which has filed civil charges in a separate action.