News broke this week when Ohio investment advisor,
Enrique F. Villalba, was sentenced to eight years in prison. His investment scheme involved
27 investors and $30.4 million. You can read more about Mr. Villalba’s
sentencing in our article,
Villalba Sentenced to Jail Today; Law Firm Continues Investigation.
At the law firm of David P. Meyer & Associates, we have been closely
following this situation. Below is a timeline of events involving Mr.
November 2009: The media began to report about Mr. Villalba and the accusations against
him. He was referred to as “a miniature Bernard Madoff.” Mr.
Villalba was named in lawsuits in both Akron and Seattle, which accused
him of operating his own
Ponzi scheme. The Washington lawsuit claimed that he had accepted millions of dollars
from his friends and clients, giving them promises of strong returns.
March 2010: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed fraud charges
against Mr. Villalba. According to an SEC press release, the charges were
for “misrepresenting the safety and nature of this investment strategy,
and for misappropriating millions of dollars in funds from investors in
California, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington.”
The SEC’s complaint stated that he allegedly solicited prospective
investors through his former company, Money Market Alternative, L.P. and
affiliated entities, Money Market Alternative Ltd., Money Market Plus,
and Hybrid Money Market Management LLC. It was believed that he created
an investment strategy that was promoted as being “conservative,
relatively risk free and would preserve his clients’ principal capital
while still earning them returns of 8 to 12 percent annually.”
September 2010: After previously pleading guilty to fraud, a federal judge in Cleveland
sentenced Mr. Villalba to prison. U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach was
quoted as saying, “this sentence serves as an example to the public
that the Department of Justice and the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task
Force will fight fraud in order to protect the integrity of financial
markets. If you lie to investors, there will be a price to pay.”