A federal judge has ordered former investments adviser Hector A. May and his firm to pay $31.6 million to one set of victims of his massive Ponzi scheme.
U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti in White Plains issued the default judgment against May for not answering a complaint filed by retired Riverside, Connecticut music executive Robert Jamieson and his wife, Judith, who sued May in for $18 million in 2019.
It is unclear from court records what assets May, 81, of Orangeburg, Rockland County has, or how he will pay the Jamiesons, as he is currently residing at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut and is not scheduled for release until 2030.
When May was sentenced to prison in 2019, former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman described the decades-long Ponzi scheme as “marked by extreme cunning, ruthlessness, and utter disregard for the well-being of his victims, including aging couples, close friends, relatives and an employment pension plan.” Judge Briccetti called May’s conduct “appalling, reprehensible and evil.
May and his daughter, Vania May Bell, 54, of Montvale, New Jersey, ran Executive Compensation Planners Inc. in New City. They persuaded clients to move funds from brokerage accounts to ECP accounts according to court records, claiming that their company could buy bonds directly and avoid transaction fees.
Instead of buying bonds, they used client funds for personal expenses, business expenses and payments to some victims to keep the scheme going. They gave their clients phony account statements to trick them into thinking their portfolios were strong.
May did not fight the charges. In 2018, he and his wife, Sonia, consented to a demand by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to freeze their assets while May and ECP were being investigated by the U.S. Attorney. When he was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud he pleaded guilty, and at his sentencing he was ordered to forfeit $11.5 million and pay restitution of $8 million.
Vania Bell has pleaded guilty on March 29 and is awaiting sentencing.
The Jamiesons, one set of at least 15 victims, had counted May as a friend, according to the lawsuit. May attended the graduations and weddings of their three children, and when Robert Jamieson was ill in 2015, May visited him in the hospital.
But May and his daughter had been scheming since 2001, according to the lawsuit, and siphoning off money for personal expenses such as furs and jewelry and country club dues.
The Jamiesons deposited $15 million with May from 1998 to 2015, but by the end of 2017 the value of their brokerage accounts with Securities America Inc. was about $50,000.
Judith Jamieson inadvertently unraveled the scheme when, believing that May was likely to retire soon, she began discussing moving investments to another brokerage firm. She ignored May’s advice not to move the funds, according to the lawsuit, and discovered that there wasn’t much left in the Securities America accounts.
They sued May and Securities America Inc. for fraud.
The $31.6 million default judgment includes compensatory damages of $20,566,010 and punitive damages of the same amount, for a total of $41,132,020, minus $9.5 million the couple got back from other defendants.
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