Cornelius businessmen plead guilty in large-scale investment scheme

A sentencing date has not been set.
Two Cornelius businessmen pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.
Two Cornelius businessmen pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.(Pixabay via MGN)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 9:58 AM EDT
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CORNELIUS, N.C. (WBTV) – Two Cornelius businessmen have pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy for orchestrating a 12-year-long investment scheme that cost investors hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

According to U.S. Attorney Dena J. King, Marlin Hershey, 53, and Dana Bradley, 53, entered the guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler.

From 2009 to 2021, Hershey and Bradley conspired to defraud numerous victims who invested in Performance Retire on Rentals, LLC and Distressed Lending Fund, both unregistered securities offerings promoted by the defendants, according to court documents and the plea hearings.

To induce investors to invest their money, Hershey and Bradley provided them with investment materials for the two securities offerings that contained false and misleading statements and did not disclose material information, court documents stated.

Prosecutors said Hershey and Bradley failed to disclose that they received commission-like payments based on the amount of investments they sold.

According to court documents, the defendants also failed to disclose to investors other details, such as negative information about their backgrounds and the financial woes faced by some of the entities for which they were soliciting investments.

The two also solicited new investors and used their money to repay loans and make Ponzi-style payments to previous investors, according to the U.S. attorney.

As of early 2018, after becoming aware of the federal investigation, Hershey “had caused 16 victims whom had invested in Performance Retire and DLF to suffer approximately $659,000 in net losses,” court documents state.

By that same period, Bradey had caused seven victims to suffer approximately $210,000 in net losses, according to court records. The total amount of restitution owed by the two defendants is listed as approximately $333,791.96.

According to the U.S. attorney, investors learned for the first time in 2019 that the projects they had invested in were in “financial distress” and could no longer meet their obligations to the investors.

After entering their guilty pleas, Hershey and Bradley were released on bond, a news release stated. The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A sentencing date has not been set.

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