monopoly_money.jpgAn American Canyon woman and a Canadian man have been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on charges that they carried out a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $75 million, prosecutors announced today.

Jacqueline Hoegel, 55, and William Wise, 62, a resident of Canada who formerly lived in North Carolina, are accused of selling investors $130 million worth of fraudulent certificates of deposit between 2004 and 2009.

The indictment, issued under seal on Feb. 21, states that investors lost a total of $75 million.

It alleges that Wise and Hoegel promised to put their clients’ money in overseas investments with returns of up to 16 percent per year.

Instead, the indictment charges, they used the funds to enrich themselves and to pay interest on some of the earliest CDs they issued, in a setup known as a Ponzi scheme.

The indictment was unsealed Tuesday after Hoegel was arrested and brought before a federal magistrate in Sacramento for an initial appearance.

Hoegel was released on a $150,000 bond and is due to appear before a magistrate in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on March 6.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Wise is believed to be in Canada, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The indictment alleges that Wise controlled three entities that he represented as banks, including one called Millenium Bank, and had an office in Napa.

Hoegel ran the Napa office, and she and Wise both sold the allegedly fraudulent CDs, according to the indictment.

The 23-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Some of the counts carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison upon conviction.

The CD-selling operation was shut down in 2009 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has filed a separate civil lawsuit against the pair in federal court in Texas.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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