Guilty man? Alleged Ponzi schemer set to plead

cover-donnelly-cafe2Alleged Ponzi-schemer John M. Donnelly

Following in the footsteps of the biggest scam artist of all time, Bernard Madoff, an Albemarle County man accused of running a Ponzi scheme is also pleading guilty. Fifty-two-year old motorcycle racing enthusiast John M. Donnelly is scheduled to make the plea May 11  in federal court, according to the court docket.

The plea will come exactly two months after federal authorities raided Donnelly's downtown office on March 11 and arrested him on charges of wire fraud.

Donnelly allegedly swindled his motorcycle racing friends and teammates out of at least $11 million by using new investors' money to pay off older investors–- a scam known as a Ponzi. The scam collapsed when his main investor attempted to withdraw more money than Donnelly could produce.

A multi-agency investigation into Donnelly's misdeeds resulted in what appears to be a taped confession as Donnelly admits to an investor that he never actually invested any money at all.

Since his arrest, Donnelly, a husband and father of two, has been held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange. His attorney, John Davidson, declined comment.


He's pleading...something. Is Courtney sure it's "guilty"?

And just because he's pleading does not mean he's going to prison.

I fail to see how some poor schmuck that sells crack is worse than this guy. Unfortunately for this guy, the mandatory minimum sentences that are handed out for drug offenses have resulted in an increase in the sentencing for many white collar criminals. It's hard to justify not giving hard time to a guy that bilked his "friends" out of millions when American citizens are routinely given hard time for a few grams of drugs.

The only good thing coming out of this recession, is flushing out the rats.

So what did he do with the dough? 11 mill is alot to burn threw.

You gotta sleep in the bed you made brother.
I feel sorry for this family for having to go through all of this...
at least he wasn't a crack dealer, you know....?

I don't see how this is any better or worse than a drug addiction. All addictions eventually ruin ones life and treatment and prevention have not been a societal priority. Prison unfortunately is not the best place to turn ones life around. Some do manage and I hope Mr. Donnelly will.

" The mind is its own place, and in itself can make heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." Milton