Tennessee trader pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme

AP News
Posted: Nov 10, 2009 5:25 PM

A Gatlinburg, Tenn., businessman accused of defrauding investors of $21 million in a wide-ranging Ponzi scheme pleaded guilty Tuesday to all charges against him.

Dennis Bolze, 60, entered his pleas to wire fraud and money laundering charges before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Varlan. He faces up to 90 years in prison if the maximum terms are applied when he is sentenced April 15.

Bolze also agreed to be held accountable for money investors lost, but it wasn't clear how much of it he could produce.

Authorities said Bolze disguised his scheme as a legitimate stock trading operation, but ran a scam between 2002 and 2008 in which initial investors were paid with money put in by subsequent investors.

Prosecutors have said up to 100 people in 12 countries were defrauded.

Prosecutors said investors believed they were receiving a return on their investment through the day-trading of futures contracts. Victims have said he promised returns of 15 to 18 percent.

Bolze posted fabricated day-trading results on the Internet, prosecutors said.

In a news release, prosecutors said he used proceeds of his scheme to purchase various properties.

Bolze was indicted in July and was arrested by federal agents in March after fleeing to Pennsylvania. He had disappeared last December, and has been forced into bankruptcy.

Bolze had pleaded not guilty in July but changed his plea Tuesday. He is being held without bond.