Beckman Gets 30 Years for Role in $195M Ponzi Scheme
Jason “Bo” Beckman has been sentenced to serve 30 years in prison for his role in Minnesota’s second-largest Ponzi scheme to date. Around 724 people, most of who were elderly investors in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, lost their life savings in the scheme.
Though Beckman claimed he didn’t know the currency investment program orchestrated by Trevor Cook was a Ponzi scheme, prosecutors said his statements were overwrought and the words of a “dishonest, venal, manipulative, … and maybe borderline delusional” man.
"I would submit that Mr. Beckman is the worst white-collar defendant in the history of the District of Minnesota," said Assistant U.S. Attorney David MacLaughlin (as quoted by Star Tribune). "I've never seen a more pro-active liar."
Gerald Durand, Beckman’s co-conspirator, has been sentenced to serve 20 years for his role in the scheme. Christopher Pettengill, another defendant, has been sentenced to serve 7.5 years. Pettengill’s sentence was significantly lighter than the others, because he served as a cooperating witness for the prosecution. Sentencing for the fourth defendant, Patrick Kiley, has been postponed. The men also were ordered to pay $155 million in restitution.
Victims of the massive Cook Ponzi scheme suffered losses of more than $150 million.
Prosecutors called the Cook Ponzi scam the worst in Minnesota history, not because of the amount swindled, but because the schemers specifically targeted their investment fraud at retirees and the elderly.
Though Beckman, Durand, and Pettengill were ordered to pay restitution to their victims, many of the defrauded investors are worried they won’t recover their initial investments. Some investors have filed lawsuits against the broker-dealers (such as Ohio-based NRP Financial and Chicago-based Peregrine Financial Group) responsible for supervising the scheme’s perpetrators. To learn more about the futures broker and curency dealer sued for facilitating the Cook Ponzi Scheme click here.