Gay Ponzi Schemer Sentenced
Jim Ellis' days of expensive lunches at Capital Grille were over when he admitted to a slew of charges against him earlier this year.
On April 30, Ellis sat in a Miami court and was sentenced. He got 38 months in prison, and three years of supervised probation. He's got 60 days to report to the court for incarceration.
"Obviously the people who have been defrauded by this animal are not fully pleased with the outcome today. But we are pleased that because of our hard work and perseverance this member of the financial predator team of Elia, Ellis & Ellis who preyed on the gay community was cornered and dealt with," Rick Khun told SFGN. "The result was an insult to the evidence provided and a huge mistake for the government who will definitely see this guy in front of them again. We all guaranteed that to the Judge today in the courtroom."
Khun emphasized that the ordeal is far from over. There is a civil lawsuit pending against Ellis, and state-level investigations into his doings.
During the sentencing, four victims spoke.
"I think the victims' speaking helped make sure that this guy got jail time," Khun said. "I think we swayed the judge quite a bit. I'm relieved."
Exposed as a crook and a con man who orchestrated a Ponzi Scheme, which defrauded many local Wilton Manors residents out of millions, indicted businessman Ellis withdrew his previously entered plea of not guilty, and entered a guilty plea before a U.S. District Court Judge, the Honorable Judge Kathleen Williams, on Feb. 1.
The scheme exposed early on by SFGN's 2012 investigation revealed that Ellis was a front and decoy for George Elia, enticing Wilton Station residents with promises of riches and fortune in exchange for their investments. Courting prospective targets at local gay bars and in lavish parties at the condo complex, Ellis repeatedly proffered to others that he himself had invested his own money and inheritance as part of the lure. In fact, prosecutors charging Ellis revealed he had no inheritances, and was simply acting fraudulently as a front for Elia.
According to court documents, here's the breakdown of what Ellis admitted to doing:
* Jim Ellis conspired with George Elia to defraud investors.
* Around 2006, Ellis gave Elia $24,000. Soon, Elia would be paying Ellis back from the invested amount, and from principal investments made by people Ellis helped recruit into the scheme.
* While Ellis promised investors he had invested $100,000 with Elia and was made to trust the "daytrader," banks accounts confirm this transaction never occurred.
* Ellis told investors he'd received returns on his investment as high as 60 percent. Bank records confirm this never happened.
* Ellis' involvement in Elia's company front ranged from cashing checks on the latter's behalf to signing documents which would put him in charge in case Elia passed.
* Ellis could sign off himself on the expensive lunches at Capital Grille that he and Elia took potential investors to.
* Ellis received investments to Elia's company front and deposited them himself.
* Bank records show Ellis has received about $2.6 million from Elia, which he admitted broke down to about $23,000 a month.
* Elia paid Ellis' mortgages.