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Chatsworth Man Pleads Guilty In Ponzi Case

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Chatsworth man pleaded guilty Tuesday to scamming nearly $13.5 million from his friends and family members who thought they were financing a wholesale business that distributed NASCAR merchandise.

Elliot Jay Dresher, 64, was indicted on federal mail fraud charges in December 2009 in connection with the scheme, which operated from 1998 to October 2009, according to federal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez set a sentencing hearing for December 19.

According to the indictment, Dresher solicited money from 26 families, many of whom were his relatives or close friends, promising that the funds would be used to finance a business in which he purchased NASCAR apparel and sold the merchandise to retailers such as Costco and Ross.

As part of the scheme, Dresher guaranteed substantial monthly returns, typically between 20 and 25 percent every six months, federal prosecutors said.

Dresher did not really operate such a business and all of the funds paid to investors were Ponzi payments that came from the victims’ principal investments.

His scheme collapsed when he was unable to make payments to investors, prosecutors said.

Dresher faces a possible sentence of 20 years in federal prison because of his guilty plea.

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