From the Daily Record:
A Convent Station woman faces up to a decade in prison after admitting in court Thursday that she accepted $1.2 million from investors but didn’t follow up with promises to purchase homes in foreclosure, re-sell them, and split the profits.
Leigh O’Neill, 38, pleaded guilty before state Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morristown, to one count of theft by deception between July 2005 and Oct. 31, 2006.
Under questioning by defense attorney Deborah Factor, O’Neill — in a barely audible voice — said she approached investors with a plan to buy distressed properties and re-sell them. Court papers filed in connection with lawsuits against O’Neill said she purported to buy homes facing foreclosure in Randolph, Long Beach Island, Sparta, Parsippany and Roxbury, and that her plan was to re-sell them and split net profits with the investors so that they received 70 percent and she got 30 percent.
In reality, O’Neill said in court, she bought no properties but gave investors the impression she did, and used money provided to her by some investors to pay off others. [aka Ponzi scheme, jb]
“Even though this defendant has paid substantial restitution, the fact remains that this continuing course of defrauding investors needs to be punished,” Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said. “We will ask the court to impose a 10-year state prison sentence which we believe is appropriate considering the scope and breadth of this fraud.” Investors in 2006 filed suit against O’Neill, which led to a criminal investigation that was spearheaded by prosecutor’s office Detective Steve Murzenski.