Former financial adviser Dawn Bennett was convicted Wednesday in federal court in Maryland of 17 charges related to a $20 million Ponzi scheme.
Ms. Bennett, 56, was found guilty of all charges, including conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements on a loan application. The jury deliberated for less than five hours before returning its verdict.
Ms. Bennett, who formerly operated Bennett Financial Group Services, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy and for each of nine counts of wire fraud; a maximum of five years for securities fraud conspiracy; a maximum of 20 years for each of four counts of securities fraud; and a maximum of 30 years each for bank fraud and for false statements on a loan application. Ms. Bennett remains detained pending sentencing.
According to evidence presented in the trial, Ms. Bennett obtained more than $20 million from 46 investors between December 2014 and April 2017, many of them elderly clients who knew her from a radio show she hosted focusing on investing.
Prosecutors charged that some of the funds were used to pay earlier investors and the rest was used for her personal benefit, including a luxury suite at a football stadium, to pay a website operator to arrange for priests in India to perform religious ceremonies to ward off federal regulators, to purchase astrological gems and for cosmetic medical procedures.
"Dawn Bennett's greed knew no bounds as she knowingly defrauded elderly retirees of their life's savings," said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. "This conviction, and the years in federal prison that she is facing, holds her accountable for her actions."
On Aug. 25, 2017, the SEC filed a related action against Dawn J. Bennett and DJB Holdings d/b/a/ DJBennett and DJBennett.com, alleging violations of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.