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Man Indicted by U.S. in $200 Million Ponzi Scheme

A purported New Jersey real estate investor was charged in an indictment with leading a $200 million Ponzi scheme that initially targeted fellow Orthodox Jews.

Eliyahu Weinstein, 36, was accused by a federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey of using sham real estate deals to bilk investors — some of them while he was out on $10 million bail after his arrest in August 2010. Prosecutors said he spent his stolen money on jewelry, art, gambling, cars and legal bills.

An investor identified as H.D.W. sunk $70 million into Weinstein projects, including $5.4 million to buy property for a project in Trotwood, Georgia. Prosecutors say the town doesn’t exist. An H.D.W. representative met with Weinstein, according to the indictment. Weinstein asked what he and the man’s wife had in common. The representative said he didn’t know.

Weinstein, of Lakewood, New Jersey, was charged with one count of conspiracy, 29 counts of wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud while on pretrial release, one count of bank fraud and 12 counts of money laundering. He faces as long as 30 years in prison on three of the counts.