Brenda Ashcraft, 43, Milford, Ohio, is charged with defrauding investors of at least $15 million between 2009 and 2013 in a scheme to purchase and sell real estate through real estate investment trusts, known as REITs.
The indictment alleges that Aschraft owned and operated French Manor Properties, which she told investors was acting as the REIT Trustee that would “secure residential and commercial real estate at wholesale pricing.” Investors believed that their investments were secured by real estate, and Ashcraft promised them 40 percent annual returns on their investments.
Instead, the indictment alleges, Ashcraft diverted investor funds to her own personal use and benefit, including a $50,000 investor payment that she used to pay for Cincinnati Reds season tickets. Ashcraft would at times send investors checks for returns on their investments, but the checks often bounced.
The indictment charges Ashcraft with one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. She is also charged with one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property and aiding and abetting, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She faces a maximum fine of $5 million on the securities fraud charge. The wire fraud and monetary transaction charges each carry maximum fines of $250,000, or two times the loss, with restitution possible on both counts.
Ashcraft is scheduled to appear Friday, August 23, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. before United States District Court Magistrate Judge Karen L. Litkovitz to answer the charges.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Kevin R. Cornelius, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Mark Porter, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service; and Andre T. Porter, Director of Ohio Department of Commerce, announced the indictment that was returned on August 21, 2013.
Stewart commended the cooperative investigation of this case by FBI and Secret Service agents, Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Securities staff, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Mangan, who is prosecuting the case.