A former financial advisor and financial radio talk show host was convicted Wednesday of carrying out a $20 million Ponzi scheme that cost elderly people their retirement savings, the U.S. attorney for Maryland announced.

Dawn J. Bennett of Chevy Chase, Md., was found guilty of 17 federal charges, including conspiracy, securities fraud and bank fraud, by a jury that deliberated less than five hours after a nine-day trial.

In addition to paying early investors with new investors’ money, Bennett used some of the money to arrange for priests in India to perform religious ceremonies to ward off federal investigators and to purchase astrological gems. She also used the money for cosmetic surgery and to pay for her lavish lifestyle, according to testimony at trial.

Bennett raised $20 million from 46 investors, many of whom drew substantial amounts of money from their retirement accounts between 2014 and 2017. Some of her clients were familiar with her through her nationally syndicated radio show, “Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett,” broadcast by the conservative Radio America network. On the show she interviewed politicians and financiers.

Bennett was a regular CNBC guest and also contributed to Financial Advisor. She formerly owned Bennett Financial Group Services in Washington, D.C., and operated DJB Holdings, an online retail store for high-end sportswear.

She is now in jail pending sentencing following the conviction in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

“Dawn Bennett’s greed knew no bounds as she knowingly defrauded elderly retirees of their life’s savings,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a statement. “This conviction—and the years in federal prison that she is facing—holds her accountable for her actions.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, Bennett solicited individuals to invest money in her internet clothing business, offering an annual interest rate of 15 percent through convertible or promissory notes. She underestimated the risks of investing in DJB Holdings, misrepresented how investors’ funds would be used and told investors the investments were liquid and guaranteed by DJB Holdings’ inventory and assets.

According to testimony at trial, Bennett also obtained a $750,000 line of credit by making false statements to a bank, including telling the bank she had a brokerage account with a net portfolio value of over $4 million. In reality, Bennett’s net portfolio value was only $35.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Bennett and DJB Holdings and DJBennett.com for alleged securities violations in relation to the same Ponzi scheme. Those charges are pending.

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