Man Receives 18 Years in "Largest" Washington Ponzi Scheme
Frederick Darren Berg, 49, has received an 18-year prison sentence for
his involvement in an alleged
Ponzi scheme that took $123 million from investors. The sentence comes as part of a
plea agreement in which Berg pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud,
bankruptcy fraud, and money laundering.
After hearing from two victims of the alleged investment scam, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones said to Berg, "I'm not sure how you live with yourself, with the damage you caused." Berg was the founder of Meridian Group, and it is alleged that he offered investors returns of anywhere from 12% to 50% during the ten year real estate investment scam. More than 800 investors were said to be affected by the losses, and many of those investors were elderly.
Berg did claim that, although he eventually turned to fraud, he started out legitimately and was looking to "save the company." Berg paints himself as a struggling businessman gone wrong, and letters from his family point to evidence of an abusive childhood. The plea deal was accepted as a balance between the incredible scale of the scheme and Berg's personal factors.
Although there may have been personal issues impacting Berg's decisions, his alleged Ponzi scheme destroyed the financial stability of many of his victims. U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said that Berg "stole and squandered the dreams of hundreds: dreams of retirement, dreams of homeownership, dreams of a college education for their children and grandchildren. While we could not restore those dreams, today he was held accountable for his acts."
The alleged Ponzi scheme - at $123 million - is being considered the largest Ponzi scheme ever discovered in Western Washington - and possibly in the entire state.
The investment fraud attorneys with Meyer Wilson serve investors harmed by Ponzi schemes, stock scams, and other types of investment or securities fraud. Our expert investment fraud lawyers can help explain your rights and options after you have suffered investment losses due to financial fraud or unscrupulous brokers.