Vegas Entrepreneur Receives 50 Years Behind Bars in $1.5 Billion Ponzi Scheme

Vegas EntrepreneurUpdated: May 23, 2019 6:47 p.m.

On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced a former Las Vegas medical billing company operator whom prosecutors address as “the ringleader” of a $1.5 billion Ponzi scheme that deceived thousands of Japanese residents to 50 years in behind bars.

Former chief Edwin Fujinaga, 72, of the MRI International Inc, was sentenced by Gloria Navarro, a Chief Judge of the Nevada federal court, which followed his conviction that took place last November on 20 counts of  wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering.

Fujinaga was also ordered to forfeit a whopping $813.3 million and also make $1.13 billion of restitution, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. His trial was four weeks long.

Prosecutors were seeking the 50-year term, while federal public defenders that represented Fujinaga said a five-year sentence was enough given his age and health. The public defender’s did not provide an immediate response to a request for comments.

According to prosecutors, both Fujinaga and his associates promised investors they would buy unpaid patient bills from medical companies at a discounted rate and then recoup the full value later from insurers.

Instead, prosecutors mentioned that they used the new money to repay earlier investors, while Fujinaga spent some of the investor funds on lavish things like private jet travel, expensive real estate, and luxury vehicles like Bentley’s, Bugatti’s and McLaren’s.

The alleged scheme ran from the year 2009 to 2013, prosecutors said.