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80 Years for Ponzi Woman

DALLAS (CN) - A Maine woman was sentenced to 80 years in state prison for a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that sold phony notes supposedly issued by European banks.

Karen P. Bowie was sentenced Collin County Judge Benjamin N. Smith after a week-long trial, the Texas Securities Board said. She was convicted of theft of property.

Prosecutors said she was part of a scam involving Titan Wealth Management, of Plano.

The firm sold phony high-yielding "European Mid-Term Notes," and Bowie stole at least $4.7 million from investors, the Securities Board said. She used some of the money to buy home on the Maine coast.

"Titan Wealth was owned by Thomas Lester Irby II, a Frisco money manager who promised investors that notes issued by European banks would pay short-term returns of between 10 percent and 50 percent," the Securities Board said in a statement.

"Most of the money Irby raised from investors paid for his personal expenses and was diverted to pay earlier investors in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. Bowie was one of Irby's partners in the Titan Wealth fraud."

Irby, 41, of Farmers Branch, was sentenced to 24 years in state prison in December 2010, for money laundering. The sentence included 10 years deferred adjudication for theft and securities fraud charges.

The SEC in 2009 sued Titan Wealth, Irby, Bowie and others in Dallas Federal Court.

They were accused of promising short-term returns of 10 percent to 50 percent and claiming that Titan would not receive any compensation from the purchase or sale of the notes.

Irby claimed the notes were protected by a $10 million note he owned that could be liquidated to pay back his clients, according to the complaint.

Irby diverted nearly $1 million to his personal account and distributed the rest to the other defendants, the SEC said. The firm was shut down and placed into receivership.

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