Man gets 5 years in Ponzi scheme

October 21, 2008 5:10:22 PM PDT
A Houston-area man who coaxed a $1 million investment from a woman, then spent most of it on two houses, is going to prison. A federal judge Tuesday sentenced 53-year-old Stephen Lee Turpin of Pearland to five years in prison.

Prosecutors say Turpin was linked to multiple Ponzi schemes blamed for more than $2 million in losses to several individuals.

Turpin in May 2007 pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

Investigators say Turpin convinced a woman to open a bank account in Zurich, Switzerland, and to transfer $1 million in a "high-yield European bond trading opportunity." Prosecutors say there was no such investment.

Turpin, who's been in custody since April 2007, must pay more than $2.1 million in restitution, plus forfeit the houses and a sportscar.

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