Ponzi Operator D.J. Harriett Pleads Guilty; Tells Judge He Attempted Suicide During Scheme’s Collapse And Also Is Suffering From Cancer

David J. Harriett

An Ohio man who fleeced more than 200 people in a $7 million Ponzi scheme tried to commit suicide in November when the scheme was collapsing and also is suffering from pancreatic cancer, the Warren Tribune-Chronicle is reporting.

The story of David J. Harriett demonstrates the enormous emotional pressure on both perpetrators and victims in Ponzi cases.

Separately, WYTV, the ABC outlet in Youngstown, is reporting that Harriett has advised a federal judge that he has only months to live.

Harriett, 60, of Warren, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in the scheme yesterday in Cleveland. The case against him was brought last month as part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said.

“These types of financial frauds, in which people portray themselves as legitimate investors but simply take their clients’ money, are a serious problem and we will continue to prosecute them vigorously,” Dettelbach said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 18. Harriett faces a maximum of 78 months behind bars.

Demonstrating the investing public’s discontent with Ponzi schemers, some of Harriett’s fleeced clients yesterday fretted that he might not live long enough for justice to be served. Harriett, whose website noted that he had gone on a Caribbean cruise in December 2008 in the months prior to the scheme’s collapse, is free on bond pending sentencing.

Harriett admitted yesterday that he told investors he was a project manager for the construction of franchise restaurants for McDonald’s and Pioneer Chicken and that investors who helped him build the restaurants were given promissory notes that guaranteed the return of their investments with interest.

His claims were false, the FBI said. No such construction contracts existed, and Harriett was using money from new investors to pay old investors in a Ponzi scheme.

See our earlier report.

Read the story in the Tribune-Chronicle.

Read the report by WYTV. (NOTE: If you visit the WYTV site, a video accompanying the report is in the upper-right corner of the page. The video shows the types of emotions that Ponzi victims express.)

NOTE: This story has been republished at a URL that is different than its original URL. Although this post reflects a date of June 13, it is not the original publication date. Click here to read why.

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