A Minnesota man will appear in a Santa Ana court Wednesday, accused of running the largest Ponzi scheme in Orange County history.
Gerard Cellette allegedly bilked $21 million from dozens of Orange County residents, without ever setting foot in California. The 48-year-old recruited three local men, who prosecutors aren’t naming, to act as brokers. They unwittingly brought their family, friends, and colleagues into the scam.
Cellette promised – and often delivered – 10 to 15 percent returns for funding what he claimed were printing projects for major corporations.
The problem was, all the money generated, some $200 million, came not from printing contracts, but from new investors.
What Cellette kept for himself he spent lavishly, on cars, private jets, and a go-kart track, bowling alley, and ‘50s style malt shop for his multiple homes. He got most of his money from Orange County, but dispersed most of the fake returns to investors in states as far away as Hawaii.
Cellette now faces 116 felony counts and a maximum of 104 years in state prison.