Guilty man? Alleged Ponzi schemer set to plead
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.