A Las Vegas lawyer accused of involvement in a $450 million Ponzi scheme used $4 million of investors’ money to pay off his bookie, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The commission on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Matthew Beasley, 49, owner of the Beasley Law Group.
The suit alleges Beasley and others sold investors bogus interests in insurance tort settlements, claiming they would receive a baseline 12.5 percent return on investment every 90 days.
But Beasley and his co-accused splurged on luxury properties, a private jet, boats, and high-end vehicles for themselves and their relatives, as well as paying off Beasley’s prodigious gambling debts, according to the complaint.
The SEC alleges that at least $449 million passed through Beasley Law Group accounts from 2017 through March 2022, although the actual amount invested was unknown when the lawsuit was filed.
Armed Standoff, Confession
A SEC lawsuit can be a precursor to federal criminal prosecution. But currently the only criminal charges Beasley faces are for pulling a gun on FBI agents seconds before they shot him.
When the FBI called at Beasley’s Las Vegas home March 3 to question him about the alleged Ponzi scheme, the attorney initially pointed the gun to his head. Then he directed it towards federal agents in “a sweeping motion,” according to the complaint. That prompted agents to open fire, shooting him in his chest and shoulder.
Despite his injuries, Beasley refused to emerge from the property, which led to the FBI calling in a negotiator. During the standoff, he admitted culpability in the scheme, according to the SEC lawsuit.
Beasley spent four days in the hospital before he was released into the custody of US Marshals and charged with one count of assault on a federal officer.
Attorney Deals ‘Made Up’
Also named in the SEC suit is Jeffrey Judd, owner of a company called J&J Entities, and several of his employees. Judd was the main promoter of the scheme, according to SEC.
He told investors he had a litigation financing business with Beasley. Judd claimed this facilitated access to personal injury lawyers whose clients had settlements with insurance companies.
He said the clients were prepared to pay a premium to get a portion of their settlement in advance rather than wait for insurance payouts.
Beasley confessed during the standoff that “he got names of attorneys for the scheme but ‘I never actually talked to them,’” according to the lawsuit. “He confessed that as Jeffrey Judd found more investors, ‘I made up more attorney’s deals and just kept growing it.’”
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