Judge sets bond for woman charged in Ponzi scheme

Bond has been set for a woman accused of helping swindle more than $2 million from investors in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Saundra McKinney Pyles, 52, appeared in federal court in Newnan on Tuesday for a judge to hear her bond appeal.

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

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

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

The bond also carries the condition that someone must come forward saying that they 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, according to federal court records.

Sedghi filed a motion May 22 arguing a magistrate judge erred in denying bond for Pyles on May 20 and should release her from federal custody. She was being held in Crisp County jail late Tuesday.

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 recused himself from the case.

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