ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. — A Rockland County man was convicted Thursday for what was referred to as a “Ponzi-like” scheme targeting the area’s Haitian community, a U.S. Attorney said.
Investigators discovered that from November 2016 to October 2019, solicited money from investors of a consulting group that bore his name by falsely promising them a 20% return on their initial investment every 60 days through stock trading. The investments were documented and the contracts generally promised that the investor could withdraw all funds from the investment within 30 days notice and this was guaranteed in the documents.
Pierre fraudulently obtained over $2 million from nearly 100 investors. After getting the money, he put it into both personal and consulting bank accounts. He then tranferred the money to trading accounts, where he engaged in what turned out to be unprofitable day trading.
Despite his losses, Pierre repeatedly and falsely told investors that it had been profitable and their investments were growing as promised. In addition to losing their money, he also used investors’ funds to pay for personal expenses, including luxury vehicles. He also further concealed the truth from investors by using money obtained from new investors to make redemption payments to previous investors.
Beginning in November 2018, Pierre began to offer investors, including those who had invested in his previous fraud, the opportunity to purchase partnership interests in a partnership that would run three fast-food franchise locations. At the time, Pierre did not own any of them but was in discussions on buying them.
The Silent Partnership Agreements promised the investors a 5% monthly return on investment, in addition to a 40% pro-rata share of the quarterly gross operating profit. The minimum investment was $5,000.
In April 2019, despite getting the financial statements, Pierre purchased only one franchise for $50,000. He deposited his investors’ money, again, in various bank accounts. He raised at least $200,000 from investors.
He’s also accused of a scheme where he embezzled money from former employers, both hotels. He wrote over $300,000 to cash or “petty cash” to himself from the company that owned the hotels.
“Today, Ruless Pierre was brought to justice for callously lying to investors,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. “Pierre told investors their investment returns were excellent, when in fact he failed to invest investor funds as promised, generated losses when he did invest, and diverted much of investor funds to his personal use and to repay investors in a Ponzi-like fashion. We will continue aggressively to pursue frauds like this one in order to protect investors.“
Pierre, 51, was convicted of two counts of securities fraud. Each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He’s also convicted of wire fraud which has another maximum 20-year sentence and a count of structuring, which could carry a term of up to five years in prison.
Pierre is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.