Ponzi scheme mastermind sentenced

April 22, 2009 4:36:50 PM PDT
A federal judge sentenced the woman behind a ponzi scheme to 10 years behind bars.In just one year, Lizette Morice ripped off thousands of people to the tune of $7.8-million. Action News first warned our viewers about her fraudulent business, Gaddel Enterprises, back in 2007.

Gaddel's mastermind made a tearful plea for mercy before her sentencing today.

"I just wanted to help people, I didn't intend to hurt them," Morice said in court.

But Frank and Janice Varallo say Lizette Morice's company destroyed their lives.

They lost about $18,000 to Gaddel Enterprises, which promised to make them rich by investing their money in foreclosed properties

"I believe those were crocodile tears and I think she was crying because she wanted sympathy from the judge, but in reality, I don't think she's sorry for anything that's happened to these victims," Kimberly Delgado of Hamilton said.

Action News spoke with a lot of Morice's victims.

Milton Ramirez lost $25,000 to Gaddel.

"I borrowed that money from my mother-in-law," Ramirez said.

Rudy George of Toms River is out $18,000.

"I'm on Medicare. I don't have a prescription plan and it's causing a lot of problems," George said.

All told, the prosecutor says Gaddel scammed more than 2,800 people, taking more than $7.8-million, but never investing a dime in foreclosed properties

"We went through all her records and there was never a single transaction so our evidence shows and our position is that it was a totally fraudulent business," Assistant US Attorney Frank Costello said.

"I am accountable for what I've done and I'm so remorseful and truly sorry," Morice said.

But that's hard for her victims to believe, especially since even after being indicted in this case, Morrice convinced William Bridge of Bensalem to set up another bogus company with her. He eventually blew the whistle and helped return $12,000 to victims of that scam

"I feel bad to my friends and family and all the other people who invested, especially the elderly people who didn't have a lot to start off with," Bridge said.

We also learned Morice even accepted $15,000 from Hurricane Katrina victims to invest.

She's been in trouble with the law before; back in 2000, she took money while posing as a wedding coordinator.

Morice was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was also ordered to pay restitution immediately.

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