A Ponzi scheme netted a Florida couple some $28 million in profits from 87 victims. The white collar criminal case against the wife has led to a 35 year sentence in federal prison. This despite that fact that her husband, as well as several others recently convicted in similar, larger cases received significantly less prison time. A third person is facing charges in connection with the operation, but he remains outside the country and has yet to be extradicted.

Marian Morgan was convicted of 22 counts of wire and mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in September and has been awaiting sentencing since then. Throughout the trial, she maintained that the money given by investors was overseas with the couple’s partner in Denmark. Her defiance was cited by the judge as one reason for the length of her sentence. Another reason given was the lavish lifestyle which she and her husband enjoyed while the investment scheme continued.

As part of an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, John Morgan, Marian’s husband, pleaded guilty to two felony counts and received a 10 year sentence in federal prison. While both participated equally, Marian had more personal contact with the investors in the Ponzi scheme. She sent emails at first reassuring investors, and later threatening their investments if they spoke to authorities. Her personal involvement with the victims of the scheme likely contributed to the judge’s ire at her demeanor during the trial.

Given the number of people defrauded in other Ponzi schemes, as well as the money involved, the sentence seems somewhat out of place. The scheme involved less than one-fifth the amount of money that Arthur Nadel took in a similar scheme. Mr. Nadel’s sentence was less than half as long as Marian Morgan’s.

Source: Herald-Tribune, “Marian Morgan sentenced to 35 years in prison,” Michael Pollick, April 27, 2012

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