Federal authorities say an upstate New York businessman has been charged with bilking oil and natural gas investors in a six-year Ponzi scheme that took in an estimated $35 million.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Tyler says that 71-year-old Ashvin Zaveri is believed to have returned $30 million to $31 million to keep the scheme going from April 2003 to March 2009. He says Zaveri pocketed the remainder.
Zaveri pleaded not guilty Thursday to fraud and money laundering. A judge gave his lawyer two months to review evidence seized by authorities.
The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service have been investigating Zaveri's business dealings for more than a year. They say many of the 320-plus investors lived in western New York.