US citizen sentenced in multimillion dollar Jamaican Ponzi scheme
By Claudette de la Haye
Caribbean News Now contributor
BOSTON, USA — Mark Jones, 64, a US citizen, was sentenced last week by US District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf to 70 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $3,749,039 and forfeiture for his part in multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme based in Jamaica.
In September 2016, Jones pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in proceeds of unlawful activity. Between 2008 and 2015, Jones obtained more than US$10 million in investments from over 20 individuals by leading them to believe that they would be providing financing to Jamaican businesses.
Because Jamaican banks can take time to close business loans, Jones claimed that he was offering these businesses “bridge loans” as an interim measure, i.e., loans to bridge the gap between the date a business sought a loan from a Jamaican bank and the date the bank actually distributes the requested funds.
However, Jones misled investors about the purported bridge loan investments and how their money would be used. Specifically, rather than investing in bridge loans and paying returns based on those investments, Jones used new capital to either repay investment principal or to pay purported returns to earlier investors.
For example, in January 2015, a Massachusetts-based victim invested approximately $200,000 with Jones. Later that month, Jones used approximately $180,000 of that investor’s money to pay four other investors.
In an exclusive interview, Jones’ attorney, criminal defense lawyer, Jeffrey Denner, a Havard graduate and reputed to be among the best in the business in the United States, spoke to the humanity of his client:
“My client is a decent man who did an indecent thing. He really wanted to make things right and pay the money back to everyone. I doubt he will repeal his case. Judge Wolf is known for being a fair man and, given the circumstances where the victims were older than Mr Jones and disposed of their life savings, Judge Wolf had no choice but to send a clear signal to the public that this would not be tolerated.
|Attorney Jeffrey Denner|
“There is no doubt in my mind if given seven to ten years and, if given a fresh start, Mr Jones could have paid off the majority of his restitution. He has made a significant contribution to the BPO sector and the debt collection industry. He was more valuable out of jail to society than in jail. In hindsight, this would have made sense in sentencing and I made my recommendation but I was overruled.
“In accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaint, it is no longer of any consequence to Mr Jones as his 49 percent of Global Gateway Solutions was forfeited by the SEC.
“That 49% share of Global Gateway Solutions was valued at US$600,000 by the SEC and offered for sale back to his former partner Jacqueline Sutherland, who still operates the business in the free trade zone in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The $600,000 payment is to be repatriated back to the victims and applied to Jones’s restitution. Prior to the sentencing date of May 24, 2017, Mrs Sutherland had not paid $600,000 for the stock.
“In as far as sentencing, Mr Jones will get 15 percent off the top for good behaviour, join the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA 500) program while in prison, then serve six months in a halfway house in his local community. In total Mr Jones’s prison time will consist of 3½ – 3¾ years. And, upon his release he will have three years of supervision.
“My client will just quietly go to prison.
“For me, it has been a pleasure and, an honour to serve as his lawyer.
“I just wish that things could have turned out better for him but, then again it could have been so much worse.”
Phone calls were made and an email sent to the offices of attorney Carolyn Hay in Kingston, Jamaica, for comment enquiring as to whether her client Jacqueline Cotterell-Sutherland, president of Global Gateway Solutions has sufficient funds to pay the SEC US$600,000, failing which the SEC presumably remains her business partner.
To date there has been no response from Hay.