Judge sets bond for woman in alleged Ponzi scheme

Bond has been set for a woman accused of helping bilk Middle Georgia investors in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Saundra McKinney Pyles, 52, appeared in federal court in Newnan this morning, where a judge heard her bond appeal.

The judge set a $20,000 secured bond, said Pyles’ lawyer, Reza Sedghi.

Sedghi said Pyles was still in custody this afternoon and is making arrangements for her bond.

“We think the judge made the right decision,” he said.

The bond carries the condition that someone must come forward saying that he or she will house Pyles, Sedghi said.

An order listing other bond conditions is scheduled to be issued later this week.

Pyles was indicted April 22 on five counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering along with 56-year-old Gary Sheldon Hutcheson. Sedghi filed a motion May 22 contending that a magistrate judge erred in denying bond for Pyles on May 20 and should release her from federal custody.

Bond also was denied for Hutcheson, who is in federal custody.

Magistrate Judge Leon Barfield, a judge from the Southern District of Georgia, presided over the May 20 hearing because the local magistrate disqualified himself from the case.

All four judges in the Middle District of Georgia also have recused themselves from the case because of familiarity with some of the alleged victims.

Jack T. Camp, a senior judge from the Northern District of Georgia, has been assigned the case.

Pyles and Hutcheson are accused of defrauding more than four dozen investors, which include many prominent Macon business owners, doctors, accountants and a retired Superior Court judge, according to Bibb County court records.

Hutcheson allegedly solicited investments from people beginning in May 2006, telling them he would place the money in a hedge fund named Georgia Ionics Fund LLC, according to federal court records.

Authorities say Hutcheson invested just $780,000 of investors’ money and pocketed more than $1.3 million. Most of the $780,000 was lost.

Information from The Telegraph’s Archives was included in this report.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.