Real estate broker gets 15 years for Ponzi scheme

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A former Indianapolis-area real estate broker and attorney received a 15-year sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to four Class B felony counts of securities fraud, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office announced.

Charles Blackwelder, who was arrested in July 2014 and accused of running a Ponzi scheme that preyed on elderly investors, was sentenced to four years in prison, four years of work release, four years of home detention and three years of probation

His daughter and accomplice, Cara Grumme of Yorktown, received a three-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to Class D perjury. The pair were ordered to pay $19.4 million in restitution to be distributed to victims through a court-appointed receiver.

Investigators found that for over a decade, Blackwelder’s company, CFS LLC, solicited over 300 elderly Hoosiers to invest in “real estate investment opportunities” that included undivided ownership interests to investors in rental properties owned by CFS. Neither Blackwelder nor Grumme informed investors that their properties had been sold prior to their purchase or that foreclosures had already been filed on several properties.

Additionally, Blackwelder and Grumme were using several of the properties for their own personal use.

"Securities fraud is always devastating, but Blackwelder’s scheme is particularly appalling because he took advantage of over 300 victims towards the end of their lives,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said in a written statement.

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