Two Macon residents indicted by feds in Ponzi scheme

U.S. marshals in Denver on Tuesday arrested two Macon residents who are accused by federal authorities of running a fraudulent investment operation that at one point handled more than $2 million.

Gary Hutcheson and Saundra McKinney Pyles each face five counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering in the “Ponzi scheme,” according to an indictment filed April 22 in the U.S. District Court in Macon.

The couple await extradition to Macon from Colorado, according to authorities.

The indictment states Hutcheson operated under the business name, Georgia Ionics Fund LLC, which he opened in June 2006, and he used two securities brokers, CyberTrade Inc. and Cobra Trading, to control the investments being made.

“From on or about May 17, 2006, and continuing to on or about July 14, 2008, the defendants devised, intended to devise and did aid and abet each other in devising a scheme and artifice to defraud both individual investors and groups of investors acting as one, of money, property, and the intangible right of honest services,” according to the indictment.

Hutcheson attracted investors in Middle Georgia and elsewhere “to place funds in what he described as a hedge fund,” according to the indictment.

“In soliciting such investors, Hutcheson claimed to have an expertise in making investments as evidenced by his past successes when, in truth and fact as well he knew, he had never succeeded in the field of investments.”

Hutcheson is accused of depositing more than $2.1 million from investors into two Bank of America accounts. After investing only about $780,000 and losing the majority of that money, he kept more than $1.3 million, according to authorities.

“Although the defendants did not make any profits, it was falsely represented to investors that there were profits being made and that the fund was completely successful,” according to the indictment.

“In order to convince investors that the fund was successful and to induce new investments, the defendants did pay $457,000 to certain of the investors, claiming such funds to be ‘profit’ when in truth and fact they were either a return of the investors’ own money or money placed in the fund by new investors.”

The case is being prosecuted by David C. Stephens, a special assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina.

To contact writer Ashley Tusan Joyner, call 744-4347.