Posted 1/7/2013 12:00 am
On Friday, Dec. 28, a 63-year-old St. Louis lawyer/Anglican bishop named Martin Sigillito was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison (which doesn’t do parole) for a Ponzi scheme that collected $52.5 million and still owed $30 million to its victims.
So what does that have to do with Arkansas? Just this:
At least 30 victims of the scheme known as the British Lending Program are Arkansans, and they are among more than 70 plaintiffs in a civil suit against Sigillito and agents who allegedly facilitated his Ponzi, including Enterprise Bank & Trust, headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton.
Sigillito’s Ponzi scheme didn’t have investors per se. Instead, its victims believed they were making loans for the purpose of buying and quickly flipping real estate in Great Britain. Advertisements for the program appeared in publications such as Farm & Dairy as far back as 2001 and offered 14 percent fixed returns, 50 percent tax credits and claimed to be “fully insured,” “fully secured” and — misusing an apostrophe in a way that should have been a big red flag — “suitable for IRA’s.”
According to the civil complaint filed by attorney Sebastian Rucci of Long Beach, Calif., more than $13 million of the money loaned to the BLP came from individual IRAs, including $8 million in IRA loans established through Enterprise Bank & Trust.
Rucci wasn’t available for comment last week, but court records indicate that the biggest victims from Arkansas were William and Carol Phillips of Arkadelphia, whose IRA loaned Sigillito just over $1 million. David Caldwell of Benton used his IRA to loan more than $665,000.
Here are the other Arkansans among the civil plaintiffs, along with the most recent figures on their losses:
- Homer and Dorothy Smith of Springdale, $235,000
- Carol Green of Benton, $227,278
- Stanko Matayo of Bella Vista, $171,968
- Gary Smith of Springdale, $145,000
- Betty Rollon of Benton, $125,000
- Dorothy Zeigler of Springdale, $65,000
- Bob Moore of Decatur, $63,577
- Arlene Stevens of Springdale, $63,150
- Judith Smith of Bella Vista, $58,750
- Donna Hogshooter of Springdale, $56,886
- Odis Hash of Bentonville, $55,140
- Kristy and Barbara Bova of Springdale $50,000
- Doris and Richard Howard of Springdale, $50,000
- Winston and Margaret Vines of Austin (Lonoke County), $50,000
- Bryan Waffle of Lowell, $50,000
- Billy Harrison of Lowell, $45,000
- Mark Cunningham of Farmington, $10,000
- Randall and Aubrey Harp of Springdale, $10,000
- David and Mary Kellogg of Springdale, $10,000
- Darren and Deborah “Debbie” Rogers of Springdale, $10,000
That, for those of you keeping score, adds up to more than $3.2 million sucked out of Arkansas by a St. Louis Ponzi.