Attorney sentenced for bilking local investors

Thu, 11/05/2009 - 3:36pm
By: John Munford

A McDonough attorney who defrauded people in Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Newnan and other Georgia cities in a Ponzi scheme was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison today.

Steven H. Ballard, 53, was sentenced to five years, three months in prison. He will serve the entire sentence because there is no parole in the federal prison system.

Following his release, Ballard will be on supervised release for three years. U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. also sentenced Ballard to refund $1.13 million in restitution to scheme victims.

According to Acting United States Attorney Yates and the information presented in court:
• From September 2002 through May 2006, Ballard, a former McDonough-based real estate and business law attorney, operated a fraudulent real estate investment scam, commonly known as a “Ponzi” scheme.

• During the time of the scheme Ballard collected over $2 million from investors in Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. In Georgia alone, he solicited funds from victims in Duluth, Dunwoody, Fayetteville, Jackson, Jonesboro, Newnan, Palmetto, Peachtree City, and Whitesburg.

• Ballard falsely promised “lucrative” real estate and other investments which never took place, often preparing HUD-1 Settlement Statements, Warranty Deeds and Sales Contracts to reflect non-existent property purchases while using a portion of the scheme proceeds to repay former victim-investors and clients whose cases he had mishandled.

• Ballard made reimbursements to victims only if they detected the scheme. All repayments were funded with money from new victim-investors.

Ballard’s law license was suspended by the State Bar of Georgia in September 2005, and he was disbarred in May 2006.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, assisted by the Henry County Police Department and the Peachtree City Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Gale McKenzie is prosecuted the case.

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