Admitted Ponzi-schemer Shawn Merriman was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison Tuesday for a $20 million fraud whose victims included his own mother.
According to the Denver Post, about 30 victims of Merriman’s $20 million fraud packed a federal courtroom in Colorado’s capital city for seven hours of testimony and arguments.
Merriman pleaded guilty in December to one count of mail fraud after turning himself in to authorities in March 2009. The paper reports he admitted to taking money from 67 investors and using it to fund a lavish lifestyle and to pay off other investors.
The maximum sentence for the mail-fraud charge was 20 years, but Merriman’s cooperation with investigators led the government to seek a sentence of 12 1/2 years, the Post reports.
Merriman’s attorney asked the court for a sentence of just under six years.
U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger rejected a key government claim that Merriman was not only a fund manager but an investment adviser, and thus deserved more time behind bars.