U.S. Marshals, FBI, Police Capture Ponzi Figure Who Ducked Sentencing; Michael Derrick Peninger Returned To Jail Amid Reports He Cut Transmitter On Electronic Monitoring Device

Michael Derrick Peninger was captured yesterday, nine days after he failed to show up for sentencing court in a South Carolina Ponzi scheme case.

Authorities said he cut the transmitter on an electronic monitoring device he was ordered to wear prior to fleeing April 12. A federal magistrate judge jailed Peninger yesterday after he was arrested on a warrant issued by the federal judge in Charleston presiding over the Ponzi case.

Peninger, 50, was convicted in October of eight counts of mail fraud and one count of making a false statement to an FBI agent. Though jailed briefly after the conviction, Peninger was freed pending sentencing after his 72-year-old mother appealed to U.S. District Judge P. Michael Duffy to permit her son to leave jail to assist with the care of her husband, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Duffy structured a release by which Peninger would wear an ankle monitor and submit to supervision pending sentencing. The sentencing date was set for April 12, and Peninger did not show up in court. He faced a maximum penalty of nearly two decades in prison, and prosecutors unsuccessfully argued last fall against the release.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service “developed information that Peninger was on Daniel Island” yesterday, the agency said.

Daniel Island is within the borders of Charleston and is the home of Peninger’s mother, although it was not immediately clear if Peninger — who had been living with his mother since his release last year — was attempting to return to her home.

Deputy U.S. Marshals, Charleston City Police Officers and FBI Agents immediately responded to the Daniel Island area, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

“K-9 officers tracked Peninger into a wooded area and followed his trail into the business district where Peninger was spotted walking in the 300 block of Seven Farms Drive and taken into custody,” the agency said.

Peninger was captured as a result of teamwork, the agency said.

“We appreciate the support from our fellow law enforcement community in apprehending Peninger,” said U.S. Marshal Kelvin Washington. “[H]e will now face the courts for his original sentence to be imposed.”

Peninger may face more jail time for ducking sentencing court and faces the prospect of a contempt-of-court hearing.

Prosecutors again argued yesterday that Peninger was a flight risk, and the magistrate judge jailed him.

Just days prior to Peninger going on the lam, the CFTC obtained a judgment of more than $3.9 million against him in a civil fraud case brought in 2008.

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