A Las Vegas lawyer has been indicted over accusations of setting up a $460 million Ponzi scheme to fund an “opulent lifestyle” that included luxury homes and cars.
Matthew Wade Beasley, an attorney based in Sin City, was criminally indicted by the U.S. District Court of Nevada on Wednesday, and will face allegations of wire fraud and money laundering.
According to the indictment, which was seen by Fortune, Beasley “conducted a Ponzi scheme” that saw him solicit investors to invest in fake contracts, using their money to pay interest to earlier investors.
Beasley, who was licensed to practice law in the state of Nevada, was accused by authorities of fraudulently telling investors that he could find plaintiffs in “slip-and-fall” lawsuits who wanted to borrow money against their pending settlements with insurance companies.
He falsely claimed that these made-up personal injury plaintiffs were willing to pay high interest rates to borrow the money for 90 days, court documents said, and created fake documents which he used to bring an unnamed person—referred to as Individual-1 in the filings—unknowingly into his scheme.
As the number of investors “greatly amplified,” the indictment alleged, Beasley caused Individual-1 to recruit several more investors to become “promoters” whose job it was to recruit new people who were willing to put money into the scheme.
Investments were only available in $80,000 or $100,000 increments.
Promoters for the scheme made a number of material misrepresentations to prospective investors, the prosecution said, including claims that Beasley had access to personal injury plaintiffs who wanted to borrow money at high interest rates and that they he would send repayments from those plaintiffs to the investors at the end of the 90-day borrowing period.
He used new investor money to pay interest and return the principal payments to earlier investors, court documents said.
‘Hundreds of investors’
From around 2017 to around March 2022, Beasley “caused hundreds of investors to ‘invest’ more than $460 million…and he used a substantial amount of that money to pay investors to maintain the appearance that the investments were genuine,” according to the indictment.
“Beasley used money from the scheme to buy luxury homes, cars, and recreational vehicles, and to otherwise live an opulent lifestyle.”
In August 2021, an FBI undercover agent wire transferred $100,000 from a New York bank account to Beasley Law Group in Nevada.
Beasley was shot and injured by FBI agents earlier this month when they visited his home to interview him as part of an ongoing investigation, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
He has been in custody since the standoff after a judge ordered him to be held without bail.
Beasley made an initial appearance in court via teleconference on March 7, the Associated Press reported, pleading not guilty to a charge of assault on a federal officer.