Wednesday, October 11, 2006

U.K, U.S. Citizens Plead Guilty to Running $30 Million Ponzi Scheme

10/11/2006 6:47:00 PM

To: National Desk

Contact: Deanna Warren of the Department of Justice,
757-441-6331; Web:

NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 11 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Howard Welsh,
62, of the United Kingdom and Lee Hope Thrasher, 51,
of Virginia Beach, Va., pleaded guilty today to
charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud,
U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg of the Eastern District
of Virginia announced today. Sentencing has been set
for Feb. 21, 2007.

Welsh faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a
fine, restitution, forfeiture of approximately $30
million, and up to three years of supervised release.
Thrasher faces a maximum term of 15 years in prison, a
fine, restitution, forfeiture of approximately $30
million and up to three years of supervised release.

According to court documents, Welsh and Thrasher
formed a corporation and induced approximately 900
investors to invest approximately $30 million. The
funds were wired to bank accounts controlled by Welsh
in the United States, and then wired to other accounts
in 13 foreign countries and the United States. In the
summer of 2002, Welsh and Thrasher fled the United
States. Welsh and Thrasher were arrested by the
Metropolitan Police Service in the United Kingdom in
November 2004. After an extradition process, they were
returned to the United States in July 2006. The United
States has recovered approximately $2 million of the
proceeds of the Ponzi scheme.

"This was a massive fraud, stunning in both its length
and its breadth, engineered by Mr. Welsh and Ms.
Thrasher," stated U.S. Attorney Rosenberg. "Given
that, we are very pleased with their convictions and
with the lengthy prison sentences sure to follow."

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the
Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation
Division. The FBI Forfeiture Unit in Norfolk, Va; the
FBI Forfeiture Support Group, Washington; and the
Metropolitan Police Service, New Scotland Yard,
London, England, also provided valuable assistance in
the investigation and prosecution of this case. The
case is being prosecuted jointly by Assistant U.S.
Attorneys Robert J. Seidel Jr., Blair Smith Perez,
Joseph DePadilla and Kevin M. Comstock.


/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/


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