Crime and Courts

Former Wall Street Trader Gets 5 Years in Prison After Taking $19M From Investors in Ponzi Scheme

Prosecutors said the man invested only a small portion of the money he raised from six victims — but when he did invest, the money was lost even though falsified monthly account statements made seem as though his investors were enjoying excellent results

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A former Wall Street trader was sentenced Monday to over five years in prison after admitting to defrauding investors of $19 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Paul Rinfret, 71, of Manhasset, New York, was sentenced Monday in Manhattan federal court.

The sentencing followed his October guilty plea to wire and securities fraud. U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods in Manhattan said Rinfret should spend five years and three months behind bars.

Prosecutors said he carried out the fraud from at least 2016 through 2019, investing only a small portion of the money he raised from six victims.

When he did invest, he lost money but falsified monthly account statements to make it seem as though his investors were enjoying excellent results, prosecutors said.

They said he used money from investors on a nearly $50,000 Hamptons vacation rental and spend over $40,000 on jewelry and tens of thousands of dollars on the venue where his son held an engagement party.

More than $20 million in forfeiture was ordered, along with over $12 million in restitution.

In a letter to the judge, Rinfret said: “I do not offer excuses. I made terrible mistakes for which I have and will continue to pay. All responsibility is mine. I hate myself for the recklessness I showed.”

In court papers, Assistant Federal Defender Jennifer Willis had asked that her client be sentenced to a year in prison, noting that Rinfret’s arrest had led his wife of 44 years to file for divorce, two children to stop speaking with him and to a foreclosure action against his home.

He started his own investment business after the 2008 economy collapse when his employer’s business closed, she said, and some of the first investors were family members.

“He is truly a man who has lost everything,” she wrote.

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