February is turning out to be quite the win for US regulatory and law enforcement agencies.
James Merrill, co-founder of the $3 billion TelexFree Ponzi scheme, is up for sentencing on February 2, 2017.
Merrill pled guilty to wire fraud last October and is facing up to 10 years in prison.
Paul Burks founded and ran the $850 million dollar Zeek Rewards Ponzi scheme. Burks fought criminal charges against him adamantly, ultimately losing in court through a unanimous guilty verdict last July.
In a court filing on Friday, Burks’ sentencing has been tentatively scheduled for February 13, 2017. It is my understanding that Burks is probably going to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The sentencing of Burks and Merrill will be major landmarks in the respective TelexFree and Zeek Rewards criminal cases.
Burks’ sentencing will mark the end of a criminal investigation that began sometime in late 2011 or early 2012.
Merrill’s sentencing isn’t the end of TelexFree litigation but a noteworthy milestone nevertheless.
Merrill’s co-conspirator, Carlos Wanzeler, remains a fugitive in his native country of Brazil. An ongoing investigation by authorities of late saw $20 million of Wanzeler’s assets seized in Massachusetts.
Wanzeler had hoped to launder the funds out of the US to Brazil through Hong Kong.
Assets bought with TelexFree funds and gifted to Wanzeler’s relatives in the US are also being recovered.
With ongoing cooperation from authorities, it is expected Wanzeler will in the end face a criminal trial either in either Brazil or the US.
Until then, stay tuned for Merrill’s sentencing on February 2, 2017 and Burks’ on February 13, 2017.