Dowdell's wife, daughter, others guilty in ponzi

Already stung nearly six years ago by the jailing of her husband and the auction of her house and jewels, the wife of one of the world's largest con artists has been sentenced to five years in jail. Fifty-year-old Mary Dowdell was one of four conspirators sentenced yesterday in Charlottesville federal court for their roles in one of history's biggest ponzi schemes. Dubbed the Vavasseur scheme and the subject of the Hook's June 26, 2003 cover story, the globe-spanning crime defrauded investors of over $100 million. Yesterday's sentencing also included co-conspirators: 66-year-old Innovative Business Consulting boss Michael Hardesty, and two Dana Point, California, brothers. The court found that 57-year-old Gregory Smyth and his

59-year-year brother, Mark, the elder of whom is a disbarred lawyer, were recruited by the jailed Terry Dowdell to continue siphoning funds his way. "These defendants participated in a scheme in which many victims lost millions of dollars," U.S. Attorney John L. Brownlee said in a statement. Following a week-long jury trial in the federal court, former Rosemont subdivision resident Mary Dowdell was found guilty on wire fraud conspiracy charges on November 29, 2007. The Smyth brothers entered guilty pleas to wire fraud conspiracy charges– Greg on November 28 and Mark on December 3. But it was Terry L. Dowdell, a once-legitimate investment advisor, whom prosecutors have called the mastermind of the fraud. Jailed in 2001, he pleaded guilty– after years of wrangling– to securities fraud and wire fraud charges in June of 2004 and is currently serving a 15-year prison term. His local auto repair shop, Authorized Auto, located on Pantops Mountain, was shut down by the federal receiver who branded it a money-laundering operation. According to a release from Brownlee's office, the Smyth brothers transferred thousands of dollars to Mary Dowdell and Rebecca Dowdell, Terry Dowdell's daughter, both of Charlottesville. Rebecca pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud on November 8 and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31. Kenneth Mason, a promoter of the Vavasseur scheme, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced June 9. And Robert June also pleaded guilty to securities fraud: his sentencing is scheduled for March 31. Across the Atlantic, Britons Shinder Gangar and Alan White, two more co-defendants, were convicted on February 22, in Leicester, England on charges including investment fraud and other related charges. Both are in custody pending sentencing in England. Alan and White were professional accountants who participated in running the investment fraud scheme through their chartered accounting firm, Dobb White & Co. Despite all the convictions, tens of millions of dollars remain lost, millions more have been consumed by the investigation, and many victims have yet to see any compensation. #

1 comment

What an amazing saga. They all should have gotten a lot more time. Who would have thought such masterminds would be here?