A Youngsville man has pleaded guilty in federal court to orchestrating a million-dollar Ponzi scheme.
Donnie Laing Jr., 39, of Youngsville, pleaded guilty this week to wire fraud in connection with a million dollar Ponzi scheme that he orchestrated through his limited liability company, Capital Energy Investments, LLC (“Capital”), federal officials say.
According to court documents, between April 2018 and November 2018, Laing operated a Ponzi scheme through Capital, a company that he used to set up a business bank account and solicit money from the victims of his scheme. Laing represented himself to be the owner of a legitimate business, Capital, that purchased and rented out oil and gas equipment – promising investors high rates of return on their investments. Investors believed that Capital would use their money to invest in oil and gas equipment, and then lease such equipment to companies engaged in oil and gas exploration activities for a profit. Instead, Laing used the victims’ investments for his own purposes.
Throughout the scheme, Laing submitted false proposals and contracts to his victims to persuade them to invest their money with Capital. He also used funds from new investors to make payments to previous investors under the guise that the payments represented legitimate profits and returns on the victims’ investments. These payments allowed the defendant to avoid detection and obtain additional funds from his victims.
Laing also used his relationship with a former business associate living in northeast Louisiana to solicit money from investors. Throughout the course of the scheme, Laing defrauded multiple investors and received nine investor payments during the period from April 25, 2018 to October 29, 2018, totaling $1,215,530.
U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty presided over the hearing and set sentencing for July 27, 2020. Laing faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of approximately $2.4 million.
The FBI is investigating the case. United States Attorney David C. Joseph and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cadesby B. Cooper are prosecuting the case.