Man who had sentence commuted by Trump charged with fraud
A New Jersey man who had his sentence commuted by former President Trump was charged Wednesday in a “multi-million dollar Ponzi-like fraud scheme.”
Eliyahu Weinstein, who was previously convicted of defrauding investors on two separate occasions resulting in combined losses of about $230 million, had his 24-year sentence commuted by Trump on the last day of his presidency.
Weinstein and four other men were charged Wednesday with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice over the scheme that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey alleged began soon after Weinstein was released from prison.
Weinstein allegedly used a fake name to conceal his identity and criminal history, as he raised money for a company known as Optimus Investments that he ran with two of the others.
Most of the investor money for Optimus Investments came from a second company, Tryon Management Group, that promised investors “lucrative” opportunities to invest in deals involving COVID-19 masks, baby formula and first-aid kits for Ukraine, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
When some the deals failed to turn a profit, Weinstein and the others allegedly used funds from investors to pay earlier investors and mischaracterized the funds as investment returns, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC is also bringing charges against Weinstein and five others over the alleged scheme.
“Weinstein, along with four other individuals, has once again perpetrated a sophisticated fraud scheme causing losses of millions of dollars,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said in a statement. “He did so by using a fake name and falsely promising access to deals involving scarce medical supplies, baby formula, and first-aid kits supposedly destined for wartime Ukraine.”
“These were brazen and sophisticated crimes that involved multiple conspirators and drew right from Weinstein’s playbook of fraud,” Sellinger added.
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