Ex-Woodbridge CEO gets 25 years for Ponzi scheme
Robert Shapiro, a former Carbondale-area resident and ex-CEO of the Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC, was sentenced in Florida on Tuesday to the maximum 25 years in prison for running a $1.3 billion real estate Ponzi scheme, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
He faced as many as 25 years in prison after pleading guilty last week to running a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme that claimed more than 7,000 victims.
Shapiro, 62, of Sherman Oaks, California, reached a plea deal in August and was sentenced in South Florida federal court by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.
Shapiro pleaded guilty to orchestrating and leading a massive investment fraud scheme that ultimately swindled his mostly elderly investors out of $470 million, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
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“(His crime) has destroyed thousands of lives of elderly folks and retired military who were specifically targeted,” Judge Altonaga said upon handing down the sentence, according to the Herald report. “I think we need to punish (him) severely because the harm was so severe.”
Shapiro additionally pleaded guilty to tax evasion for his failure to pay more than $6 million in taxes due and owing to the IRS for calendar years 2000 through 2005.
Woodbridge employed approximately 130 people and had offices located throughout the United States, including in Carbondale; Boca Raton, Florida; Sherman Oaks, California; Tennessee; and Connecticut. The scheme ran from at least July 2012 to December 2017, when Woodbridge declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and defaulted on its obligations to investors.
At the time federal regulators began investigating Woodbridge and Shapiro, several properties at Aspen Glen and throughout the Roaring Fork Valley were held by LLCs tied to Woodbridge’s Sherman Oaks address.
Shapiro lived part time at Aspen Glen, a high-end golf course community near Carbondale. He would often host big-ticket Republican fundraising events, inviting guests including conservative political operative Karl Rove, current Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Fox News analyst Juan Williams.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the real estate Ponzi scheme was $1.3 billion.
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