$10 Million Ponzi Scheme in Rhode Island Ends In 8 Year Sentence
On Feb 14, 2020, Monique Brady of Rhode Island was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to the charge of running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than $10 million. Brady also pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing an IRS criminal investigation by attempting to delete all documents and correspondence related to these investments.
From 2014 to 2018, Brady fraudulently attracted potential investors, many of them close friends and family, with claims that her business, MNB, was working on large-scale rehab property projects throughout New England. According to Brady, individual work projects on the properties normally cost $1,000 or less, yet she regularly charged investors as much as $80,000 for them. In addition, she solicited money for 98 properties on which no work was done at all. Brady ran her scams through MNB, whose charter was revoked by Rhode Island authorities in 2011. Brady continued to run MNB despite the revocation.
Among those Brady conned were her children’s caregiver, an elderly man afflicted with Alzheimer’s, three local firefighters and colleagues of Brady’s husband, and even personal college friends. All told, 32 people and business entities were defrauded over the course of the scheme on the promise that investors would see a return on their investment plus half the profits of the refurbished properties.
“We All Love Monique!”
Brady was well known in the area for her hospitality, frequently throwing parties in her $1 million home with heated saltwater pool, wine cellar, and wraparound bar, using these glamorous surroundings to project an aura of business acumen and success that convinced investors she could be trusted with their money. In reality, Brady used the money she defrauded to pay her own mortgage, take vacations, and indulge her gambling habit.
Those close to Brady described her as personable, likable, and genuinely interested in others. When first approached by federal authorities, many refused to believe the charges at all, with one exclaiming, “We all love Monique!”
Limited Recovery in Sight
Investors are currently in the process of recovering their money through lawsuits and bankruptcy actions. Brady’s lawyer attempted to put MNB into bankruptcy in late August of 2019 but withdrew from the case not long after saying there had been a breakdown in communication.
In order to convince investors of the legitimacy of MNB, Brady forged emails said to have come from a national property rehabilitation company and offered up fraudulent itemizations of work performed. She even went so far as to research the identity of an employee at the property rehabilitation company to make the correspondence seem more genuine.
A week after her arrest, Brady attempted to flee with her lawyer and lover, Kevin Heitke, to her birthplace of Vietnam, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Heitke’s wife discovered the couple’s plan and reported it to federal authorities in time to stop them.