NORWALK, Conn. — A 55-year-old accountant from Norwalk will spend 97 months in federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme and stealing more than $6 million from investors, including his 93-year-old great aunt.
James E. Neilsen was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford, said U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly. His prison term of eight years and one month will be followed by three years of supervised release.
About 10 of his victims addressed the court during Thursday’s sentencing.
He operated a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of more than $1.6 million, and stole millions more from other investment accounts, Daly said.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Neilsen was a certified public accountant until he became inactive in 2012. But since at least 2006, he had solicited and received more than $1 million from numerous individuals to invest with Ulysses Partners, an entity in which Neilsen was a partner and chief financial officer, or Neilsen Financial Services, which he owned and controlled.
Neilsen promised investors a guaranteed rate of return of 9 percent to 10.5 percent on their investments. He told investors that Ulysses Partners or Neilsen Financial Services would invest their money in businesses or business ventures.
Instead, he used much of that money to pay back earlier victim investors and to make various personal expenditures.
As part of the scheme, Neilsen submitted fabricated account statements to his victims, and also sent lulling emails to multiple victims. Through this scheme, he defrauded victim investors of $1,663,641.83. In addition, Neilsen also stole funds from various trust and estates accounts to which he had access.
Chatigny found that the total loss attributable to Neilsen’s criminal conduct exceeds $6 million. A restitution hearing will be scheduled at a later time.
The victims included his accounting clients, clients of his tax preparation business, friends and members of his family, including his 93-year-old great aunt.
His victims also included children who were the beneficiaries of a trust established after their father’s untimely death, which Neilsen had authorized access to.
He was arrested on June 18 and pleaded guilty on Sept. 24 to one count of wire fraud.
Neilsen has been free on bond since his arrest and will be confined to his home on electronic monitoring until he reports to prison on March 11.
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