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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 12, 2020

Charlotte Man Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Investment Scheme

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Joseph Maurice Deberry, a/k/a Joseph Maurice Dewberry, 56, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer yesterday and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for orchestrating an investment scheme that defrauded victims of hundreds of thousands of dollars, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) which oversees Charlotte, join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to admissions Deberry made in plea documents and yesterday’s plea hearing, from 2016 through June 2019, Deberry fraudulently obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars from more than a dozen investors. As part of the scheme, Deberry induced victims to invest in entities with which he was affiliated, such as Pinnacle Investment Properties, LLC and Place Capital Group LLC, among others. Deberry typically represented to investors that their money would be used to further projects related to the construction of student housing at certain colleges in the Carolinas and other ventures.

To further promote the fraudulent scheme and to induce his victims to part with their money, Deberry lied about his education, employment background, involvement in prior lawsuits and regulatory actions, previous success in student housing projects, and about how he would use the victims’ money. For example, Deberry falsely claimed that he studied at the London School of

Economics when he had never studied there, and falsely claimed that he had a successful career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, when he had never worked there.

As Deberry admitted in court yesterday and in related filings, rather than use the victims’ money as he had represented, Deberry used a significant portion of their funds to pay for personal expenses like rent, entertainment and travel. Further, Deberry actively concealed from his victims the fact that he was under a Cease and Desist Order from the state of North Carolina, which prohibited him from offering for sale, soliciting offers to purchase, or selling any securities in North Carolina. Deberry concealed this information from victims by, among other things, telling them that his name was Maurice Dewberry.

Deberry pleaded guilty to wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date for Deberry has not been set. 

The FBI’s Charlotte Field Office and the USPIS handled the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Ryan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated June 12, 2020