Alleged Fraudster Sentenced to 22 Years in Parallel Criminal Case

October 16, 2019/US SEC

One of the alleged perpetrators of a Ponzi-like scheme that raised more than $345 million from over 230 investors across the United States, Kevin B. Merrill, has been sentenced to 22 years in prison, in a parallel criminal case. The court also ordered Merrill to repay the full amount of the victims’ losses, with the amount to be determined at a later date.

The criminal charges against Merrill stem from the same misconduct alleged in the SEC’s complaint, filed on September 13, 2019 in federal district court in Baltimore. From at least 2013 to 2018, Merrill and co-defendant Jay B. Ledford allegedly attracted investors to the Ponzi-like scheme by making false statements about how investors’ money would be used and propping up their misstatements through the creation of sham entities and fraudulent documents. Rather than use investor funds to acquire and service debt portfolios as promised, the amended complaint alleges that defendants used the money to make Ponzi-like payments to investors and to fund Merrill’s and Ledford’s extravagant lifestyles. Ledford and another co-defendant, Cameron R. Jezierski, entered guilty pleas in the parallel criminal case and are awaiting sentencing.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Norman P. Ostrove, Dustin E. Ruta, and Scott A. Thompson of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office. The litigation is being led by Julia C. Green and Mark R. Sylvester and supervised by Jennifer Chun Barry. Kelly L. Gibson, Associate Regional Director, is supervising the action. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, the Baltimore field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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