HELPING VICTIMS OF A PONZI SCHEME SECURE JUSTICE
Ara Jabagchourian, Donald R. Fischbach and Aron K. Liang
MASSOYAN, ET AL. V. HL LEASING, INC., ET AL.
Over the course of more than a decade, 800 people were swindled out of their savings by a Central Valley-based company, HL Leasing, Inc. The victims of the scheme were lured to invest monies earmarked for their retirement by promises of safety, security and a modest rate of return. The investors were fleeced of more than $93 million in a sophisticated Ponzi scheme. In April 2009 the Ponzi scheme unraveled as the monthly interest payments used to camouflage the scheme abruptly stopped, and the company’s CEO committed suicide. The U.S. Department of Justice focused its attention on the deceased CEO as the architect of the scheme, but the criminal investigation was ineffective to help address the significant financial impact on the victimized investors. They were told by other lawyers that the money had been squandered and there was no hope for recovery beyond a paltry sum. Despite the legal obstacles, the legal team took on the case and exposed all those who helped aid and abet the fraud. The attorneys also persuaded the court that the deceased CEO was merely the alter-ego of the company that orchestrated the scheme, thereby expanding the reach of the assets that could be seized to satisfy the verdict.