HONOLULU – Suzette Anguay, 50, convinced 15 families tied to the Ewa Beach Pop Warner Football community to invest $800,000 in her company, MONEY $EN$E, after she promised them annual investment returns of 15 percent to 30 percent.
Anguay claimed she had lucrative real estate investment opportunities, but rather than investing their money, court records show between 2007 and 2011, she used the money to fund her own lifestyle.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi sentenced Anguay to 46 months in federal prison for running the Ponzi scheme, and ordered Anguay to pay $510,000 in restitution to her victims.
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said the victims in this case are working class families from Ewa Beach.
“It’s going to be a long road as they attempt to rebuild their economic lives,” Simon said.
Anguay targeted friends who she knew because their children played in the same football league.
“She didn’t steal from perfect strangers. These were her friends who knew and trusted her for years,” Simon said. “The FBI hopes that this sentencing sends a message that you can’t steal from your neighbors and hope to get away with it.”
Anguay, also is known as Suzette Pa, served as the executive director of the Hawaii chapter of the Community Associations Institute, a membership organization of 500 condominium, cooperative, and planned community associations and companies that provide services and products to these associations.
Anguay was accused of stealing from the non-profit, and charged with second-degree theft for writing checks for personal expenses.
According to the Honolulu City Prosecutor’s office, Anguay pleaded no contest in April 2005 and was granted a 5-year deferral.
While state court records show she officially complied with terms of her probation and was discharged her in 2010, federal court records show she running the Ponzi scheme at the while.
Anguay did apologize for her actions in federal court on Monday, but screened her face from television news cameras as she left the courthouse.
She has gone to great lengths in the past to avoid television news cameras including calling an ambulance to take her out of the courthouse on a stretcher while she covered her head with a sheet.
Hawaii has been plagued with Ponzi schemes over the last 5 years resulting in Hawaii families losing millions of dollars to people they trusted. About 30 criminals have been convicted on Ponzi scheme related charges, the FBI reports.