U.S. dollars
U.S. dollars REUTERS

A Michigan Ponzi scheme operator has been sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison following his part in a $72 million Ponzi scheme involving at least 3,000 investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Aug. 6.

Gregory McKnight, 53, of Swartz Creek, Mich., had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and was ordered to pay back $48 million in restitution to the thousands of victims across 50 states and several foreign countries.

According to the Commission's complaint, between December 2005 and November 2007, McKnight told his unsuspecting investors that he would invest in various investment vehicles through his company, Legisi Holding, and pay interest of as much as 15 percent per month from the resulting profits.

However, McKnight invested less than half of the offering proceeds and that these investments resulted in millions of dollars in losses. The Commission's complaint further charged that McKnight used investor funds to make Ponzi payments to investors and for his own use.

McKnight's associate, Matthew J. Gagnon, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in promoting Legisi.