Man admits to $1.5 million Ponzi scheme

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A former resident of Alexandria, Va., admitted that he bilked investors out of $1.5 million in a years-long Ponzi scheme, then fled to Costa Rica on a yacht purchased with investors’ funds.

Richard Pettibone, 44, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court in Alexandria and was sentenced to three years behind bars.

Documents say he used investors’ funds to help pay for a $400,000 yacht that he purchased in the name of his girlfriend’s mother. Then, between July and November 2005, he wired a total of $530,000 to a bank account in Costa Rica. Pettibone and his girlfriend then fled on the yacht to Costa Rica, where they opened a hotel in mid-2006, court documents say.

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