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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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