BY JIM DOOLEY – Ponzi schemer Rachelle Griggs plead guilty today in Honolulu Federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Puglisi.

Rachelle Griggs

Rachelle’s husband, Perry Griggs and Kapua Keolanui,  co-conspirators in the case, pleaded guilty earlier. A civil fraud case filed by the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission against the Griggses and their company, Aloha Trading Co., Inc., is still pending in federal court.

Rachelle and Perry Griggs made national news when they became fugitives for nearly a year in 2010. Perry Griggs, with the help of his wife, began the scheme while he was a prisoner in Nevada federal prison 2005 for an earlier fraud conviction. They targeted Hawaii residents, some of whom were relatives of prisoners serving with Perry Griggs.

“This scheme began while Perry Griggs was serving a federal sentence for wire fraud and money laundering,” the CFTC said in its lawsuit.

“While incarcerated on these charges, Perry Griggs solicited investments from fellow prisoners while (Rachelle) solicited investments from families of prisoners and other membres of the general public,” the government said.

Perry and Rachelle Griggs both falsely claimed that he was an expert commodity trader and promised

Perry Griggs

“enormous returns” on the investments, according to court papers.

The government alleged that the Griggses “operated a classic Ponzi scheme,” attracting  more than $3 million in investments. $1 million was used to pay “earnings” to early investors and the Griggses used another $1 million to finance a lavish lifestyle, according to the government. The couple spent money on luxury automobiles, jewelry, and a chartered private jet. The Griggses were were captured December 16, 2010 in Arizona.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra will sentence for Rachelle Griggs August 1. Perry Griggs will be sentenced by Ezra July 18.

 

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com