Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.
"Will that be paper or plastic?" Despite the fact Nevin K. Shapiro ran a grocery diverting business, when he was asking that he was most likely wondering how victims of his alleged $900 million ponzi scheme wanted to pay up.
The SEC has charged Shapiro with running the scheme since 2005. The founder and president of Capitol Investments USA, Inc. told investors that their money would fund his grocery business. He guaranteed that the investments were risk-free and would promise returns as high as 26 percent annually, but the operation was running at a loss by 2004 and in 2005 he started paying older investors with money from new investors in a classic ponzi scheme. When they asked for proof he supplied fabricated documents. Meanwhile, he was diverting some of the cash to other business and his own lavish lifestyle.
"He used his prominence and prestige to gain investors' trust in funding Capitol's grocery diverting business, but behind their backs he diverted their money to enrich himself," said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC's Miami Regional Office in a written statement.
Shapiro skimmed off $38 million for himself. The SEC claims his lifestyle included "a $5 million home in Miami Beach, a $1 million boat, luxury cars, expensive clothes, high-stakes gambling, and season tickets to premium sporting events."
Shapiro was a major donor to the University of Miami athletic program. The Nevin Shapiro Student-Athlete lounge was named in his honor and he also contribute to scholarship, renovations to the athletic center and other efforts.
Shapiro also donated $1000 to the Republican Party of Florida in 2007, but last year shelled out $1000 to democrat Kendrick Meek's senate campaign.