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Failure to register in Indiana opens door for state charges against Ponzi scheme mastermind

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A split Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a man at the center of an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 72 victims in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana will have to face state charges even though he pleaded guilty to a federal indictment.

The Court of Appeals issued its rulings in a pair of cases from two different counties that involved the same defendant and the same crime.

In Jerry A. Smith v. State of Indiana, 24A01-1210-CR-469, from Franklin Circuit Court, and Jerry A. Smith v. State of Indiana, 15A05-1208-CR-411, from Dearborn Superior Court, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.

While the appellate judges threw out a number of state charges because they constituted a double-jeopardy violation with the federal plea, the COA held that other state charges specific to Indiana statute could stand.

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented with the majority’s decision, arguing it violates double jeopardy. She wrote the “hypothetical reasoning” of the majority ignores the directive of previous decisions. Specifically, she pointed to State v. Allen, 646 N.E.2d 965, 968 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995) which held that a conviction in any other jurisdiction barred a later prosecution in Indiana for the same conduct.

Smith along with Jasen Snelling are alleged to have run a Ponzi scheme from CityFund Advisory and Dunhill Investment Advisors Ltd. The pair told victims they were involved in day trading, were licensed to sell securities and could garner an unusually high returns on investment.

However, according to the federal indictment, they were not licensed to sell securities nor were the firms licensed brokerages. Smith and Snelling never invested their clients’ money but rather used the funds to enrich themselves.

Together, victims of this investment scheme lost more than $8.9 million.

On June 12, 2012, Smith pleaded guilty to federal charges, acknowledging the ploy.

Franklin and Dearborn counties filed their own charges against Smith related to the financial fraud. Smith filed a motion to dismiss all state charges, asserting they were barred by double-jeopardy principles.

In throwing out several state charges, the Court of Appeals agreed with Smith that they arose from the same conduct that was included on Smith’s federal conviction. But the few charges related to Smith not being a registered broker-dealer with the Indiana Secretary of State were related to separate conduct.

“There is not overlap between the failing to register counts in this proceeding and Smith’s federal conviction,” Judge James Kirsch wrote for the majority. “On the one hand, had Smith been registered as a broker-dealer, he would still have faced the federal prosecution for his fraudulent acts. On the other, had Smith sold legitimate securities, he would have still have faced prosecution in this proceeding for his failure to register as a broker-dealer.”
 

 

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  • BS
    When a panel of judges reach different conclusions there can be no conclusion. If there are 7 judges and 4 say yea an 3 say nay, is it yea because 1 more said yea than said nay? Nay I say, it is what it is, is the COA voting on what to have for lunch or deciding justice>

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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