A former financial advisor, father of at least nine children and a two-time candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives has been charged with operating a Ponzi scheme in which he "guaranteed" high interest rates to people investing in tax liens and other investments.
Jeffrey L. Cassman, 34, of Nashville, and former owner of the Cassman Financial Group, was charged Wednesday by a federal grand jury with one count each of mail fraud and securities fraud arising from an investment-fraud scam he perpetrated from January 2003 to November 2005. If convicted, Cassman faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.
Ty Howard, the assistant U. S. attorney who prosecuted the case, noted the indictment didn't mention an amount that Cassman is accused of stealing, but a forfeiture allegation is seeking approximately $395,000 that are proceeds from the crimes. He confirmed that Cassman has been on the run since a warrant for his arrest was issued in December 2008 in connection with the charges.
According to The Nashville Post, Cassman fled the Nashville area with his wife and at least nine children. Family members told The Post that it is possible that since they fled that a tenth child has been born. The Post also reported that it received information that before leaving the area, Cassman was teaching his children Spanish and that he is possibly hiding in Mexico, living off of ill-gotten gains. Cassman was a Republican candidate who ran twice for a Williamson County-area state House seat.
"Investment advisors hold a position of trust for their clients, many of whom rely on their advisors' advice to make important financial decisions," said U.S. Attorney Edward M. Yarbrough. "Investment advisors who defraud clients and misappropriate client funds not only abuse that trust but also undermine the confidence of the investing public.'
The indictment says that from approximately January 2003 to November 2005, Cassman defrauded a number of investors through a series of misrepresentations. 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, the indictment says. Contrary to those representations, however, Cassman did not, and never intended, to invest client funds in tax liens or other investments, it adds.
The indictment says Cassman used the funds for personal expenses. Sometimes Cassman used a portion of the funds to repay earlier investors, giving them the false impression that the "returns" were from their investment. In reality, those returns were simply later investors' money, and Cassman, rather than using the funds as promised, was perpetrating a type of Ponzi scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.