Jeffrey Cassman, 35, of Nashville, former owner of the Cassman Financial Group, Inc. in Franklin, was sentenced on July 1 by United States District Court Judge Aleta Trauger to 48 months in prison for committing mail and securities fraud, according to Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. The sentence followed Cassman's guilty plea in December 2010 for crimes arising from the Ponzi scheme he perpetrated from January 2003 to November 2005. As part of his prison sentence, Cassman was barred in the future from working in investment and financial positions and was ordered to repay over $500,000 in restitution to his victims, most of whom where Cassman's family, friends, and members of his church.Cassman fled Tennessee in 2008 to avoid prosecution for theft. He was added to the state's Most Wanted list in March 2010 after a Feb. 24, 2010 indictment on one-count of mail fraud and securities fraud arising from an investment-fraud scam he reportedly ran for two years.

He was taken into custody in early October 2011 by immigration authorities after he was located living with his wife and 10 children in Cuidad Vieja, near Antigua, Guatemala.

At the time of his arrest he was one of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top 10 Most Wanted fugitives.

He was accused of bilking several victims -- including his in-laws of Franklin -- out of thousands of dollars between January 2003 and November 2005 using an investment scheme.

Martin said, "This case illustrates the unfortunate reality that fraudsters often victimize those closest to them. Investment frauds of any kind undermine the public's trust in the financial industry and leave a trail of victims. The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue aggressively prosecute those who commit such crimes."

In sentencing Cassman, Judge Trauger also noted the "immense" harm Cassman had done, not only in financial terms, but in terms of the "emotional impact" on his immediate and extended family.

At the sentencing hearing and earlier at the plea hearing, the Court heard the details of Cassman's crime. Over the course of several years starting in 2003, Cassman lied to investors about how he would invest their money and about the status of their investments. Cassman told investors, among other things, that he would invest their money in tax liens and other types of investments, that such investments were "guaranteed" or "fool proof," and that investors would receive a high rate of return. Contrary to those representations, however, Cassman did not, and never intended to, invest client funds in tax liens or other investments. Instead, Cassman used the funds for his personal expenses. In addition, in some cases, Cassman used a portion of the funds to repay older investors, giving them the false impression that the "returns" were from their investment. In reality, those returns were simply money derived from newer investors, and Cassman, rather than using the funds as promised, was perpetrating a type of Ponzi scheme.

The case was investigated by agents with the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ty Howard.

© 2011 Williamson Herald

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