Ponzi schemer pardoned by Trump after fraud charges

  • A New Jersey man whose 24-year prison sentence for fraud was commuted by Donald Trump has been charged with masterminding a new Ponzi scheme.
  • Eli Weinstein was one of 143 people granted executive clemency in the final hours of Trump’s presidency.
  • Within a year of his release from prison, authorities say Weinstein began a scheme to defraud 150 victims of more than $35 million.

Former US President and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump makes a gesture about weightlifting while speaking at a Republican Party volunteer recruitment event at Fervent Calvary Chapel on July 8, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mario Tama | Good pictures

WASHINGTON — A New Jersey man sentenced to prison for running a massive Ponzi scheme turned by Donald Trump on the final day of his presidency was charged Wednesday with masterminding a similar scheme.

Eli Weinstein and four associates are accused Overseeing a new Ponzi scheme that prosecutors say defrauded 150 victims of more than $35 million.

Weinstein has now been charged with defrauding investors three times.

First, in 2013, he pleaded guilty to 45 counts of fraud and conspiracy for stealing more than $200 million from investors. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to a second charge, this time admitting to wire fraud while he was under investigation for a Ponzi scheme.

Weinstein was serving eight years of his 24-year sentence when Trump granted him clemency in 2021, one of 143 people to receive a pardon or dismissal during Trump’s last term in office.

His release from prison ended a costly lobbying effort that led those close to Trump, including attorney Alan Dershowitz, to argue that Weinstein never received a fair trial.

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The campaign for Trump to grant Weinstein clemency later materialized A New York Times storyIt detailed how Weinstein’s associates paid for access to various Trump insiders.

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On the day of his transfer, the White House described Weinstein as a “father of seven and a loving husband.”

“Once he is released, he will receive strong support from his community and members of his faith,” an official statement on his transition said.

At a press conference announcing the latest charges, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Selinger said, “Weinstein picked up where he left off: stealing millions of dollars from investors through a web of lies and deceit.”

As stated therein Criminal complaintWeinstein and his associates created bogus investment funds and told prospective investors that their money would be “used to invest in lucrative deals including Covid-19 masks, rare baby formula and first aid kits going to Ukraine.”

To hide his true identity and criminal past, Weinstein used the name “Mike Koenig” when communicating with investors.

In addition to the criminal charges Weinstein faces, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday A civil complaint was filed against him and five other alleged conspirators.

“Repeatedly, the defendants took money from unsuspecting investors for bogus deals and transferred the money to give previous investors the false impression that they were receiving real profits from those deals,” Antonia Opps, director of the SEC’s New York regional office, said in a statement Wednesday.

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