BULLETIN(S): (1) Missouri Con Man, 72, Charged In Alleged $3.18 Million Ponzi Caper While Jailed In Previous Fraud Scheme; (2) New York Woman Was Running Multiple Ponzi And Fraud Schemes That Gathered More Than $9 Million, Feds Say

BULLETIN: A 72-year-old Missouri con man already jailed in a fraud case involving taxes and Pell Grants has been charged with orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that allegedly followed on the heels of his original scam.

Ronald W. Shepard pulled off a Ponzi scheme involving more than $3 million, the office of U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips of the Western District of Missouri said.

Separately, a woman has been charged with running multiple Ponzi and fraud schemes that sucked in $9 million, the office of U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York said.

Charged in the alleged New York capers was Laurie Schneider, 37, of Oceanside.

One of Schneider’s schemes involved a “shell company” known as Janitorial Close-Out City Corp. In that scheme, Schneider duped 25 investors into believing she invested in industrial equipment and machinery manufactured by companies in China and sold products wholesale at a tremendous profit, federal prosecutors said.

But it was a $4 million-plus Ponzi that promised enormous returns of up to 60 percent and paid investors with money from other investors. Another fraud scheme hatched by Schneider fetched $5 million, bringing the combined fraud intake to more than $9 million, prosecutors said.

“As alleged, this defendant falsely represented herself as having international business connections that would benefit her investors, when in reality she was engaged in purely homegrown fraud and deception,” Lynch said.

In the Shepard case, records show that the con man already is jailed in Arkansas for his original Missouri scam involving taxes and Pell Grants. In that 2007 scam, Shepard was accused of preparing and and submitting “false financial aid documents and tax returns to the Department of Education, as well as various colleges and universities, in order to obtain financial aid for his clients and their children. Shepard also allegedly prepared and submitted false federal income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service in order to obtain inflated refunds for his clients.”

Shepard initially was sentenced in 2009 to five years’ probation in the tax and Pell Grants scam. Pell Grants are named after the late Sen. Claiborne Pell, D.-Rhode Island. The grants provide financial aid to eligible college students.

As part of his probation, Shepard was ordered not to be employed “in any capacity in which he would act in a fiduciary capacity,” not to commit any crimes and not to lie to his probation officer.

After the government demonstrated that Shepard had a role in an ongoing scam involving other people’s money and had played word games with his probation officer, the judge revoked Shepard’s probation and ordered a five-year prison sentence. Although Shepard appealed, he lost.

State and federal investigations continued while Shepard entered the prison system in the tax and Pell Grants case. The probe culminated in a Ponzi indictment charging Shepard with 13 counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering.

Prosecutors said he raised more than $3 million in his Ponzi scheme, which involved a company known as Safety Solutions USA LLC that was developing a tow hitch and seeking a patent. The patent application was declined, but Shepard had promised investment returns of up to 100 percent, prosecutors said.

Shepard, formerly of Lees Summit, Mo., also was involved with a real-estate firm known as “The Real Estate.”

“Shepard allegedly told investors that their money was used to purchase property in Kansas City, the Lake of the Ozarks and Hawaii,” prosecutors said. “Except for purchasing his own personal residence at the Lake of the Ozarks, the indictment says, Shepard did not purchase any real estate. Instead, the indictment alleges that Shepard used investor funds for personal living expenses, to pay other investors, to pay relatives, in disbursements of cash to himself and in real estate ventures.”

All in all, prosecutors said, Shepard took in more than $3.18 million though his Ponzi, paid bogus returns of more than $1.2 million — “and lost or spent the rest,” resulting in investors losses of at least $1.8 million.

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