Investment Advisor Guilty Of Ponzi Scheme That Snared Faith-Based CU
DETROIT – A Southfield investment adviser on Tuesday pleaded guilty to operating a $10 million Ponzi scheme that raised funds from several municipalities, a school district, a bank and a credit union serving churches.
Dante DeMiro claimed to be investing funds in certificates of deposit but instead used the proceeds, including $396,000 in four $99,000 CDs bought by United Services CU of Des Moines, Iowa, to buy personal items, gamble and make loans to several individuals and a local jewelry store. The $11 million credit union was chartered in 1955 to serve ministers, family members and churches of the North Iowa Conference (of Methodist churches).
DeMiro, 43, also sold the bogus CDs to Michigan’s Lapeer County, Mona Shores Public Schools in Muskegon, and Comstock Township near Kalamazoo, through his two investment vehicles, MuniVest Financial Group and MuniVest Services LLC.
In a classic Ponzi scheme, the funds from the later investors were used to pay interest to the earlier investors to make it appear the scheme was paying off. To further the scheme, DeMiro would fax or e-mail clients computer screen shots of investment summary reports that purportedly detailed their investments in CDs at various banks and credit unions, including Credit Union One, according to court records. But he never bought the CDs.
DeMiro pleaded guilty to five counts of bank and wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 12.