Former coach guilty in Solana Beach-based Ponzi scheme

A federal grand jury has found Mark Todd Hauze guilty of orchestrating a Solana Beach-based Ponzi scheme from 2002 to 2005. Hauze, who is free on bail until sentencing, could face millions of dollars in fines and up to the rest of his life in prison.

Hauze was convicted on eight counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return while running his Universal Money Traders fund. He was originally charged with eleven counts of mail fraud and eight counts of wire fraud.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the former Santa Fe Christian Schools assistant football coach solicited more than $10 million from people’s retirement accounts for UMT, which advertised a 30 percent or greater annual return. Further, UMT guaranteed that losses would be limited to no more than 15 percent for each $2,000 invested, the release said.

“High yield investment fraud schemes are crafted to create illusions of attainable wealth in a short period of time,” said IRS Acting Special Agent Catherine Tucker in a statement. “Today’s guilty verdict is a concrete example of how easily it is for investors to fall for a ‘get rich quick’ scam and lose their life savings.”

Instead of building his clients’ portfolios, the U.S. attorney’s release stated Hauze spent the money for personal use, honored withdrawal requests with money from new clients, reported bogus trading results and provided online statements with false balances. Meanwhile, UMT is said to have lost the original funds with bad investments made.

Defense attorney Jason Conforti argued Hauze was not guilty based on a lack of criminal intent.

“There was definitely negligence and mismanagement and miscommunication within the company, which led to reporting errors outside the company,” he said. “He never intended fraud. You have to ask yourself, if the facts were identical and people made money, would we be in court?”

Conforti said a defense of intent is appropriate in criminal court because the burden of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is too high a standard for a guilty verdict. He said this argument would most likely not suffice in a civil suit.

He currently lives in Salem, Ore., and was working as the defensive backs coach for the University of Willamette football team. Conforti noted that Hauze never lived a lavish lifestyle and currently dwells in a modest home.

Prosecutors declined to comment until after sentencing, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 19.

Conforti said the defense may move to push back that date due to a conflicting trial involving his co-counsel, Marc Carlos.

Related posts:

  1. Hauze pleads not guilty in Solana Beach-based Ponzi scheme case
  2. Hersch pleads guilty in fraud scheme
  3. Man who engineered Ponzi scheme dies
  4. Former Westview High coach arrested
  5. Two arrested in $1.2M fraud scheme

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