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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Receiver Tracks Down $78M Ponzi Scheme

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The receiver for a $78 million Ponzi scheme filed six federal complaints this week to recoup money from "winning investors" who got payouts before Joseph Forte's scam collapsed. Like Bernie Madoff, Forte, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, never reported a losing quarter no matter how the market performed.

Joseph Forte L.P.'s fraudulent quarterly and annual statements showed annual returns of 18 to 38 percent. The Ponzi scheme continued for 13 years, from 1995 to 2008, during which time Forte raised $78 million and burned investors for $35 million. After pleading guilty to criminal wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud and money laundering in June 2009, Forte was sentenced to pay $35 million in restitution, and the prison time.

One of the six recent complaints named CPA John Irwin and Jacklyn Associates as defendants. The receiver seeks $1.97 million allegedly transferred to Irwin and $11 million transferred to Jacklyn during the scheme.

The receiver seeks to recover money from these defendants, among others: Malvern Preparatory School, $900,000; Laura Forte, $146,000; John Forte, $73,000; Heritage Land Transfer Co., $326,000; and the Thornton D. and Elizabeth S. Hooper Foundation, more than $13 million. The Hooper Foundation allegedly redistributed the money the Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia, The ALS Association, Boy Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty, Bryn Mawr Hospital Foundation, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Institute of World Politics, Naval Special Warfare Foundation, PhilAbundance, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, The Salvation Army, and St. David's Episcopal Church.

Forte used the money to buy beach houses for himself and a brother in law, to buy a boat, to pay himself "management fees," to improve his house, to salt money away for retirement, and to make "philanthropic contributions," among other things, according to the complaint.

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