Former Talk-Radio Host Gregg Rennie Pleads Guilty In Ponzi Scheme; Weizhen Tang Arrested At Toronto Airport
A Massachusetts man accused of targeting senior citizens and people of faith — and fleecing millions of dollars from them in a Ponzi scheme — has pleaded guilty.
Meanwhile, Canadian-citizen and Ponzi-scheme suspect Weizhen Tang, the self-describedÂ “Chinese Warren Buffet,” was arrested last night at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Tang was taken into custody after returning to Canada from China. He was whisked to jail, and has a court appearance scheduled today. Toronto police asked for the public’s help in locating Tang earlier this month. Tang said he was aware a warrant had been issued for his arrest, and his attorney said Tang was returning to Canada to face the charges.
In the Massachusetts case, Gregg T. Rennie pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to 13 counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. He potentially faces decades in prison and fines in the millions of dollars.
â€œFinancial crimes that prey on trusting investors, as alleged in this case, will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “The U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office is dedicated to protecting investors from financial predators and will aggressively pursue those who exploit the trust of the investing public.â€
Rennie, 44, of Quincy, former was the host of the “Your Money” radio program. Christians were targeted in the scheme, which gathered at least $3.2 million, prosecutors said.
“[H]e stole no less than $3.2 million from a number of victims, including an elderly gentleman whom Rennie had known since his childhood, retirees who invested their retirement savings with Rennie, and individuals who listened to Rennieâ€™s radio show,” prosecutors said. “[His] victims also included a church congregation that had invested funds that the congregation had raised in anticipation of building a new church.”
Rennie fleeced investors by telling them he handled “risk free federal housing certificates with guaranteed rates of return,” prosecutors said.
He “told his victims that these investments involved government grants or loans for housing projects, or were otherwise investments in federally subsidized real estate developments,” prosecutors said.
But Rennie “used the funds to pay for his own personal and business expenses as well as to make periodic payments to other victims,” prosecutors said. “To conceal his fraud, [he] showed some of his victims prospectuses for legitimate investment vehicles from respected investment companies. He further sent his victims bogus invoices which appeared to reflect their investments.”
Rennie is at least the third talk-radio host recently implicated in a financial-fraud scheme. Christian radio host Pat Kiley of Minnesota was accused by the SEC and the CFTC of participating in a $190 million Ponzi scheme with Trevor Cook.
In Beverly Hills, Calif., radio host John Farahi is accused by the SEC of targeting Iranian-Americans in a debentures-scheme pitched in Persian.