A New Jersey woman was arrested on Wednesday and charged with running a $45 million Ponzi scheme in which she allegedly promised investors high returns from real estate, but instead used their money to repay other investors and gamble at casinos.
Antoinette Hodgson, 58, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy, according to a complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court and announced by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Prosecutors accused the Montclair, New Jersey, resident of having solicited the $45 million from more than 20 New York and New Jersey investors between 2006 and December 2009, promising to use the funds to buy or renovate residential real estate properties for eventual resale.
Instead, prosecutors said Hodgson spent only $6 million on real estate, and used most of the rest to repay earlier investors.
They said Hodgson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, New Jersey, and withdrew more than $200,000 from counters at Trump casinos.
The defendant also invested more than $700,000 in a Dunkin Donuts franchise in Arizona, and gave tens of thousands of dollars to friends and family members, prosecutors said.
If convicted, Hodgson faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge, as well as a fine. She is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
The case is U.S. v. Hodgson, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-mag-1261. Hodgson's first name is misspelled Antionette in the official case caption.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)