United States v. Snelling, No. 12-4288 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Snelling defrauded investors by soliciting funds for two fictitious financial companies, CityFund and Dunhill, which supposedly invested clients’ money in overseas mutual funds and overnight depository accounts, and promised investors an annual return of 10 to 15%. In reality, Snelling and his partner operated a Ponzi scheme in which “returns” on earlier investors’ capital were part of new investors’ deposits. The rest of the new deposits went to Snelling and his partner, who used the money to buy vacation houses and boats, pay private-school tuition, and live extravagantly. Among the tactics they employed were intentional targeting of victims’ IRA and 401(k) accounts, issuance of false quarterly statements by mail and, in confronting investors’ suspicions, production of false records that showed a balance of $8.5 million in the fund when it actually held $995.. Neither Snelling nor his partner paid taxes on the diverted funds. Snelling pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349; obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1519 and 2; and tax evasion, 18 U.S.C. 7201. Snelling appealed his 131-month prison sentence, claiming that the Guidelines-range calculation employed a loss figure that did not take into account the sums paid back to investors in the course of the fraud. The Sixth Circuit agreed and vacated the sentence.