Business partner acquitted in USD85M Mississippi Ponzi scheme

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (AP) — The former business partner of a Mississippi man convicted of running a Ponzi scheme in which investors lost more than USD85 million has been found not guilty of assisting in the crime.

Jurors acquitted William McHenry, 72, of securities and commodities fraud and wire fraud charges on Thursday in federal court in Jackson.

Prosecutors had argued McHenry recruited investors for Arthur Lamar Adams while the two worked together in a shared office from 2010 to 2018. Adams was sentenced last year to about 19 years in prison for the scam. McHenry did recruit investors for Adams’ business, Madison Timber Properties, but didn’t know it was a Ponzi scheme, his defence contended.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Abby Brumley said Adams was solely responsible for the scheme in which he told approximately 300 investors, including a Hollywood producer and United States (US) Republican Senator Roger Wicker, they could make up to 13 per cent returns on their investments.

Adams skimmed some for himself and used some to pay 10 per cent commissions to salesmen such as McHenry, a March indictment alleged. Federal receiver Alysson Mills said there are dozens more victims, many elderly, who entrusted their life savings to the two. Mills received a USD3.4 million judgement against McHenry in a separate civil suit to restore some of those funds, The Clarion Ledger reported.