Concert promoter Joseph Meli, who fleeced about 130 investors out of $95 million in a ticketing re-selling Ponzi scheme (see Audience issue 212), has pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud.
Dating from 2015 to this year, investors thought their funds were going to buy and resell blocks of tickets to popular concerts and shows including the Broadway hit Hamilton and were promised 10 per cent returns on their money within eight months.
Instead, Meli used the money to buy a $3m house in East Hampton, New York, a 2017 Porsche convertible, watches and jewellery, and to repay previous investors in the pyramid scheme and an unrelated hedge fund.
Federal guidelines call for a prison term of 78-97 months and a fine of as much as $5m. As part of a plea agreement, five other charges were dismissed, including that Meli defrauded investors in the hedge fund Sentinel Growth Fund Management.
Meli’s lawyer’s can also seek a lighter punishment at his 31 January sentencing. Without the plea deal, he could have received a sentence of 20 years.