Ponzi scheme leader gets 10 years in prison

A former Johnson County insurance agent who pleaded guilty to scamming $1.8 million from two dozen investors was ordered Monday to spend 10 years in prison.

Rudolf “Rudi” Pameijer, 63, of Trafalgar was handed an 18-year prison sentence by Johnson County Judge Loyd, but eight of those years were suspended.

Pameijer also was ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution to the 24 victims.

Prosecutors say Pameijer, a long-time insurance salesman, portrayed himself as a financial adviser and used a sham company, Plan America LLC, to sell fraudulent investment contracts and securities to unsuspecting victims. The sales of false securities took place in 2010 and 2011.

His clients were from Johnson and Hendricks counties as well as Colorado, and included family members and friends.

Neither Pameijer nor Plan America were registered to sell securities in Indiana.

Pameijer told investors he could guarantee their initial investment and promised high rates of return. Court papers say he persuaded clients to terminate existing annuities or liquidate retirement accounts to fund the new investments, despite large cancellation penalties.

Investigators say Pameijer used client money for luxury automobiles, a motorcycle, a 30-foot boat, his son’s college tuition, a car for his daughter and various home renovations. He also used funds to pay for his daughter's wedding and honeymoon on the Carribean island of St. Lucia.

In classic Ponzi scheme style, Pameijer used funds from new clients to pay earlier investors.

Pameijer pleaded guilty in February to one Class B and two Class C felony securities fraud violations.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Pameijer’s scams could have been uncovered earlier if somebody would have checked out his so-called investment firm.

“Neither his company nor his products were ever registered with our office,” she said in a prepared statement. “If only one investor would have called my office or checked our online database, his scheme would have crumbled.”

The scheme also involved Pameijer’s daughter, Lindsay Pameijer, 34, and Ryan W. Koester, 42, who ran another sham company, Rykoworks Capital Group LLC, in Brownsburg.

Koester pleaded guilty in November to four Class C felony securities fraud violations. He was sentenced to two years in prison and 14 years on probation, and was ordered to pay $517,000 in restitution.

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