Ponzi Schemer Gets Six-And-A-Half Years

Jul 27 2012 | 10:54am ET

Admitted hedge fund fraudster Ward Onsa was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $3 million.

Onsa's lawyers has sought leniency, arguing that he had not profited from his scam. But U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry wouldn't have any of it, sending Onsa to jail for seven months longer that the five years and eleven month maximum sentence that prosecutors agreed to seek in the plea deal they struck with the New Century Hedge Fund Partners chief.

"He is a con artist who convinced a lot of people to part with their savings, to part with retirement funds, and I'm not convinced that it was not for personal gain," the judge said.

Irizzary also order Onsa to pay $3.1 million in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release.

Onsa pleaded guilty to securities fraud in December. According to prosecutors, he invested with the conviction that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would never exceed 10,748. But it did, breaking the barrier in 2006 and remaining above it for all of 2007 and most of 2008, causing huge losses. So Onsa took some $2.6 million raised from newer investors and loaned it or “returned” it to earlier investors. He also provided falsified statements and siphoned off money for himself, in part via his already defunct firm, Ward Onsa & Co., which collapsed in 2005.

In court yesterday, Onsa said he "tried to right the ship."

"People deserve the truth," he told Irizzary. "I should have given it to them right away."


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