A Las Vegas lawyer accused of spearheading a $460 million Ponzi scheme is a “flight risk” and a “danger to the community,” according to prosecutors.
On Monday, a federal judge agreed, reversing a magistrate judge’s order to release Matthew Beasley, 50, on bond ahead of his trial.
Beasley has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering in relation to the sale of bogus interests in insurance tort settlements. He was arrested in March 2022 after an armed standoff at his home, during which he was shot and injured by federal agents.
Beasley told around 600 investors that he had a litigation financing business that facilitated access to personal injury lawyers whose clients had settlements with insurance companies, according to court filings.
He said the clients were prepared to pay a premium to get a portion of their settlement in advance, rather than wait for insurance payouts. He told his victims they would receive a 12.5% return on their investment every 90 days, prosecutors claim.
‘Scheme of Artifice’
But it was a “scheme of artifice,” according to the indictment. In reality, he used money from new investors to “pay interest on purportedly maturing investments owed to earlier investments.”
He used the money to pay off his prodigious gambling debts, and to buy luxury items, including property, boats, and high-end vehicles.
When the FBI visited Beasley’s Las Vegas home in March 2022 to question him about the alleged Ponzi scheme, the lawyer pointed the gun to his head, before allegedly waving it towards agents. That prompted them to open fire, wounding him in his chest and shoulder.
Despite his injuries, Beasley refused to emerge from the property. During the ensuing standoff, he admitted culpability to an FBI negotiator, according to the SEC complaint.
On Monday, prosecutors said the incident showed he was a danger to himself and others, adding that he was “unquestionably suicidal” during the confrontation.
“He told the crisis negotiator that he wished the FBI agents ‘would have killed me,’ and that ‘I need to get the balls to (expletive) pull this trigger,” they wrote.
‘I’m a Liar’
They also cited a letter Beasley wrote to the FBI in which he refers to himself as a “liar” and a “horrible human being.” He also said he had paid between $15 to $20 million to his bookie “as a result of gambling debt and extortion” and says he had been threatened by this individual, whose name is redacted.
“I realized a couple of years ago I was too far in to ever recover,” Beasley wrote in the undated letter. “At that point I made a choice that I was going to give my family what I’d always wanted them to have before it came to an end.
“Amazingly, I was able to have another two to three years treating them in a way I felt they deserved to be treated. I realize it was selfish, but I knew this day would come and they would lose more than anyone else,” he added.
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