Lake Tahoe attorney facing 71 counts for alleged Ponzi scheme
A Zephyr Cove attorney is facing 71 counts of fraud and money laundering for his role in an alleged Ponzi scheme.
David Kaplan, 52, appeared before a U.S. judge in Denver in early June. Kaplan was transferred to Colorado from Reno, where he was arrested for securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Colorado.
The indictment filed in early May alleges that from September 2014 to April 2016, Kaplan deployed an investment scheme that netted more than $12 million from investors in multiple states.
Kaplan’s attorney, Thomas E. Goodreid, told the Tahoe Tribune his client did not want to comment on the case.
The indictment claims Kaplan used his position as an attorney to gain the trust of investors and then used his attorney trust account to create the pretense that the money would be held in trust at no risk.
Kaplan told investors they would receive returns of approximately 10% per month on the amount invested. For about 17 months, Kaplan made payments of that amount to the investors in order to “lull (them) into a sense of legitimacy and to encourage the recruitment of additional investors,” the indictment alleges.
Other funds — more than $2 million according to the indictment — were diverted into accounts controlled by Kaplan himself or accounts belonging to companies he controlled. The indictment includes multiple pages of companies and nonprofits created by Kaplan, as well as bank accounts connected with those entities.
Per the indictment, Kaplan never disclosed he would benefit financially from the investments and he never disclosed the terms of any compensation.
Starting in early 2015, Kaplan started sharing excuses with investors, in an attempt to explain why he was unable to continue the payments or return the original investments, which he originally said were not at risk.
Kaplan is charged with seven counts of securities fraud, 36 counts of wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud and 19 counts of money laundering.
Each count of securities fraud carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Each count of wire fraud and mail fraud carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the amount of gain or loss, whichever is greater.
Money laundering carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 or not more than twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.
The defense requested a continuation in the case, which Judge Christine M. Arguello granted June 21.
The next scheduled appearance is a status conference scheduled for Jan. 8, 2020.