GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — James Wiederhold, 39, formerly of Byron Center,
was sentenced today for running a Ponzi scheme that stretched from Michigan to Florida.
Wiederhold, a former HVAC technician turned supposed investment guru, represented to
investors that he was the “co-manager” of the Atlas Fund, which purportedly guaranteed 24% annual returns to investors. In reality, Wiederhold and his confederates had no investment experience and simply paid old investors with new investor money, in a classic Ponzi scheme. Investors incurred actually losses totaling over $800,000. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker sentenced Wiederhold to 72 months imprisonment, three years supervised release, plus restitution in the amount of $827,300, and ordered forfeiture in the amount of $803,000.
Also sentenced today were Neal Wiederhold (62), James Wiederhold’s father, and Larry
Niewenhuis (55), James Wiederhold’s Uncle. The elder Wiederhold and Niewenhuis helped James Wiederhold hide his ill-gotten gains from investors and from Wiedehold’s creditors – of which there were many. Neal Wiederhold, who pled guilty to making a false statement to the IRS relating to the Ponzi scheme, received 12 months and one day, plus two years supervised release and restitution. Larry Niewenhuis, who pled guilty to making a false statement to the FBI relating to the Ponzi scheme, received 24 months, plus two years supervised release and restitution. Anthony Rinkus, 32, of Key West, Florida previously pled guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced to 35 months imprisonment in July 2011. Joseph M. Angioi, 44, of Oviedo, Florida, pled guilty to the misprision of a felony and was sentenced to 5 years probation in September, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles stated that “investor fraud such as the fraud executed by
these defendants degrades the trust investors place in their investment advisors and the financial markets. Today’s sentences reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and the need to deter others who may wish to prey upon innocent investors.”
Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge IRS-Criminal Investigation stated that,
“Wiederhold and his co-conspirators committed these crimes on purpose. They stole almost $1 million from innocent investors and used the money for their personal gain. These individuals will have plenty of time to think about their actions behind bars.”
This case was prosecuted by Matthew G. Borgula from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and
Timothy Leiman from the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. The case was investigated by Special Agents from the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, and from the FBI.