Dennis Bolze, Tennessee Ponzi Schemer Who Fled After Fraud Was Exposed, Sentenced To 27 Years In Federal Prison

Dennis Bolze, a fraudster who silently bolted from Tennessee during the same month Bernard Madoff provided a glimpse of how a shocked nation would come to view Ponzi schemers, has been sentenced to 327 months in federal prison.

Bolze, 61, was arrested in Pennsylvania on March 12, 2009, about three months after news of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme broke and Bolze’s own scheme collapsed. Even as Bolze was fleeing his Ponzi after it was exposed in a bankruptcy proceeding, Florida Ponzi schemer Arthur Nadel also went missing. For days, America’s attention was riveted on the sudden reality of massive Ponzi schemes — and much of the world wondered how many other shoes would drop as crimes that had been hidden for years or even decades were exposed.

Nadel and Bolze were among the earliest of the so-called “mini-Madoffs,” Ponzi schemers who orchestrated spectacular frauds that would dominate headlines for weeks were in not for the staggering size of Madoff’s $65 billion fraud. Nadel went missing from Sarasota Jan. 14, 2009, a little more than a month after Madoff’s scheme was exposed. He surrendered to the FBI in Tampa on Jan. 27, 2009.

After his arrest in Pennsylvania, Bolze — once the toast of Gatlinburg, Tenn. — became reviled. His 16,000-sq.-ft.  mansion in the mountains and three-story tall Christmas tree became the symbols of wretched excess.

Bolze positioned himself as a successful day trader, but he was really just a scam artist who took $21.5 million from clients and paid back $9.6 million in bogus “returns” to keep the scheme operating, prosecutors said.

In reality, Bolze invested only $1.6 million and operated the scheme between April 2002 and December 2008. His dash from Tennessee coincided with the Madoff headlines.

While jailed,  Bolze asked for an opportunity to recoup the money he had fleeced from victims. All he needed, he argued, was the Internet, a computerized program — and a little time.

Senior citizens and people of faith were among Bolze’s victims, prosecutors said.

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3 Responses to “Dennis Bolze, Tennessee Ponzi Schemer Who Fled After Fraud Was Exposed, Sentenced To 27 Years In Federal Prison”

  1. Many of you have heard about the terrible fires around Gatlinburg, Tenn. Several people reportedly have been killed.

    One of the property casualties was the former mansion of Ponzi schemer Dennis Bolze:

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