SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A former Poway life insurance agent was sentenced to a dozen years in state prison on Wednesday for orchestrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi plan that defrauded around 50 victims, many of whom were senior citizens who lost savings.
Christopher Dougherty, 47, pleaded guilty earlier this year for securities fraud and theft charges for offering investment opportunities to victims in companies he owns, therefore using some of their funds for his personal expenses , such as home remodeling, travel and college tuition, according to the state insurance department.
Among the investments that Dougherty promoted to his victims was a 100-acre organic cattle ranch and a marijuana-growing project in the Alps that did not generate profits for investors.
Dougherty also used some of the victims’ money to repay other investors “in the classic Ponzi way”, and when he was unable to repay his investors, “the Ponzi plan collapsed,” according to a DOI statement.
More than half of Dougherty’s victims were 65 years of age or older. Deputy District Attorney Michael Zachry said more than $ 10 million was raised, with a net loss to the victims of over $ 7 million.
During a hearing convicted during a video conference because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dougherty made a statement to the victims shortly before the 12-year sentence was issued.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” said Dougherty. “I wanted to sincerely apologize to you and your family members, and I also want to let you know that I made a mistake and will not do it in the future.”
Zachry said the case was “extremely egregious in all respects” and claimed that the impact on the victims went beyond dollar amounts.
As for the victims of the elderly, Zachry said that “they are not young enough to ever have the hope of earning this money again – this money that had blown up for years and years for their golden years or to move on to relatives or just enjoying life at a time when they had worked so hard during their younger days. That was taken from them. So, it’s more than just money, it’s their entire lives. “
Dougherty filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 and was charged in April 2019 by the San Diego County district attorney’s office.
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