Photo: Michael Kunzelman, AP
Jury apperception in artifice balloon of Ponzi arrangement suspect
GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A federal board began apperception Tuesday in the balloon of an advance adviser answerable with orrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi arrangement to accounts her abundant lifestyle, including spending added than $800,000 for prayers by Hindu priests in India.
At the end of Dawn Bennett’s balloon on artifice charges, a prosecutor said the 56-year-old Maryland woman defrauded her investors in a atrocious attack to save her declining business, a website affairs affluence sports apparel.
“It’s a abomination that bulk bodies their retirement accounts, their activity savings,” Assistant U.S. Advocate Gregory Bernstein told jurors during his closing arguments.
The 12-member board deliberated for almost two hours afterwards extensive a adjudication afore breaking for the night. Board deliberations are accepted to resume on Wednesday morning.
Bennett’s attorney, Dennis Boyle, portrayed his applicant as the aboriginal and better victim of a artifice arrangement that the aegis advocate approved to accusation on addition official from her company.
Boyle said Bennett invested added than $8 actor of her own money in her company, DJBennett.com. And the aegis advocate said Bennett relied on banking numbers and annal able by the company’s arch banking officer, Bradley Mascho, who was accusable on accompanying charges.
Mascho pleaded accusable in June to conspiring to accomplish balance artifice and awaits a sentencing hearing, but he didn’t affirm at Bennett’s trial. Bennett additionally didn’t testify.
“In fact, all anchorage in this case advance to Mascho,” Boyle said.
In an affidavit, an FBI abettor said a chase of Bennett’s home in Chevy Chase aftermost year angry up affirmation that she casting “hoodoo” spells to blackout board from the U.S. Balance and Exchange Commission. Agents begin instructions for agreement bodies beneath a “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell” and biographical advice for at atomic three government attorneys alive on the SEC ysis of Bennett, according to the affidavit.
FBI agents additionally begin the brand of SEC attorneys accounting on the lids of Mason jars stored in Bennett’s freezers, suggesting she had casting spells in hopes of “paranormally silencing” the SEC attorneys, the abettor wrote.
However, jurors didn’t apprehend any affidavit about those spells during the trial, which lasted two weeks.
But the board did apprehend affidavit aftermost anniversary that Bennett paid a website abettor to align for priests in India to accomplish religious ceremonies to breadth off federal board afore her arrest aftermost year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For one of these “yagya” rituals, Bennett spent $7,250 for bristles priests to adjure for her beyond 29 afterwards days.
“I am in a actual actual boxy action activity adjoin my enemies and I charge all the advice I can get,” Bennett wrote in an email to Puja.net website abettor Benjamin Collins, a government attestant at her trial.
Boyle said the actuality of the prayers and Bennett’s religious behavior are extraneous and shouldn’t be scrutinized by the government.
“Prayer is an important allotment of Ms. Bennett’s lifestyle,” he said. “She is acutely religious.”
Assistant U.S. Advocate Thomas Windom questioned why Bennett wouldn’t acquaint investors she planned to absorb their money on paid prayers if she saw it as a accepted expense.
“Because it’s clearly frivolous. It’s clearly fraudulent,” he added.
Bennett aloft added than $20 actor from at atomic 46 investors in her affluence accouterment company, generally bloodthirsty on aged audience who knew her from a radio appearance she hosted in the Washington, D.C., area, authorities accept said.
They said she acclimated investors’ money to pay off added investors and for her own claimed benefit, including added than $141,000 on abstruse gems, added than $100,000 on corrective medical procedures and a $500,000 anniversary charter for a affluence apartment at the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium.
The FBI’s ysis of Bennett began in December 2015 afterwards the SEC formally accused her of ambidexterity investors by inflating the bulk of assets she managed and exaggerating the allotment on her customers’ investments. The SEC cited statements that Bennett fabricated on her paid account radio show, “Financial Myth Busting With Dawn Bennett.”
Bennett’s banking advising business was accident audience and incurring millions of dollars in losses afore she angry to the counterfeit auction of promissory addendum to “tap a new assets stream,” the SEC said in its complaint.
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