ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- The woman accused of running a $100 million Ponzi scheme has been found guilty in federal court.
Lydia Cladek, 67, was on trial charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill.
Fourteen counts against her were handed down in an indictment in November 2010.
Today, she was found guilty on all charges.
O'Neill cited evidence in the trial stating that Cladek offered investors the opportunity to "loan" money to her business in exchange for a promissory note, which was in turn secured by car notes the business had purchased in the past.
Despite her assurances to the investors that the notes were genuine, O'Neill indicated, they were false, sometimes having been assigned to multiple investors each over a short time period.
Cladek used new investor money to pay old investors, O'Neill said in a news release, and to fund her "lavish" lifestyle, which included homes in Captiva, Sanibel and St. Augustine Beach.
She began to run out of car notes by 2003 and by 2005 had outstanding notes of about $58 million, according to Cladek.
The FBI raided her business in March 2010, and discovered under $4 million in car notes she owned, and outstanding loans of more than $90 million.
O'Neill said many of her investors were people from her church and social organizations, and that her case "represents personal greed at the highest level."
Upon sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled, Cladek could face 20 years in prison for each of the 14 counts.
First Coast News