AP

Father, son arrested in Japan get US prison for Ponzi scheme

Apr 5, 2022, 4:07 PM | Updated: 4:28 pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two former investment executives arrested in Japan were sentenced Tuesday to five years in a U.S. prison for their roles in what federal authorities called a $1.5 billion international Ponzi scheme with 10,000 victims in the U.S. and abroad.

Junzo Suzuki and his son, Paul Suzuki, apologized to the judge, their family and their victims before each was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to five years in prison and three years of supervised release, according to court records and their attorney, Richard Wright.

The father-son defendants pleaded guilty in January to one count of wire fraud and avoided trial on 15 federal fraud charges. Prosecutors have compared the case involving Las Vegas-based MRI International Inc. with the biggest-ever U.S. fraud cases.

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro scheduled a June 28 hearing at which the government, defense attorneys and lawyers for victims will focus on a possible $141 million in restitution.

Junzo Suzuki, 73, has been a legal permanent resident of the U.S. but will face deportation following his prison term, according to court documents. He has multiple health issues and has been on pretrial release since April 2020 due to the potential exposure to COVID-19 behind bars. He is due to surrender for prison July 8.

Paul Suzuki, 43, is a U.S. citizen, but has been in custody since the two men were arrested in Japan in January 2019. Navarro said he can be allowed to live with family in Japan while he serves his three years of supervised release.

The two were arrested in Japan just two months after a federal jury in Las Vegas found their co-defendant, Edwin Fujinaga, guilty of 20 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Fujinaga, now 75, is serving a 50-year U.S. prison sentence.

Prosecutors told jurors that from about 2009 to early 2013, Fujinaga ran a Las Vegas operation that told Japanese investors they were buying claims from a medical collection business, according to court documents.

He was found guilty of using new investors’ money to pay off previous investors and spending the lavishly on a Las Vegas golf course mansion, a private jet, luxury cars and real estate in California wine country, Beverly Hills and Hawaii.

Junzo Suzuki was MRI International’s executive vice president and Paul Suzuki managed Tokyo operations. Prosecutors said that when the Japanese government revoked MRI’s license to market securities in April 2013, the firm owed investors more than $1.5 billion.

Wright said his clients learned of the Ponzi scheme only about a year before it collapsed.

U.S. attorneys had compared Fujinaga’s conviction with those of Bernard Madoff in 2009 in New York, Allen Stanford in 2012 in Houston, and Scott Rothstein in 2010 in Miami.

Madoff died in prison in April 2021 at age 82 while serving a 150-year sentence for bilking thousands of investors out of at least $20 billion.

Stanford, 72, is serving 110 years for a scheme involving more than $7 billion. Rothstein, 59, is serving 50 years in a $1.2 billion case.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Kamala Harris speaking at podium...

Associated Press

Harris has support of enough Democratic delegates to become party’s presidential nominee

Vice President Kamala Harris won the backing of more than two-thirds of the Democratic delegates she needs to become her party's nominee and set a fundraising record Monday, as top Democrats rallied to her in their bid to defeat Republican Donald Trump.

1 day ago

Global technology outage causes chaos on Friday morning...

Associated Press

Faulty software update causes havoc worldwide for airlines, hospitals and governments

A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday morning.

5 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

Donald Trump celebrated by former rivals at Republican National Convention

Former president Donald Trump was celebrated at the Republican National Convention by former rivals, including Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

7 days ago

FILE - Members of the Henderson Fire Department load Deb Billet, 66, into an ambulance before trans...

Associated Press

Things to know about heat deaths as a dangerously hot summer shapes up in the western US

A dangerously hot summer is shaping up in the U.S. West, with heat suspected in dozens of recent deaths.

11 days ago

FILE - Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the "Ask Dr. Ruth" panel during the Hulu presentation at...

Associated Press

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, has died

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, media star and best-selling author, has died.

11 days ago

Biden proposes rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat...

Associated Press

Biden proposes new rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat

President Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed a new rule to address excessive heat in the workplace, warning — as tens of millions of people in the U.S. are under heat advisories — that high temperatures are the country's leading weather-related killer.

21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Father, son arrested in Japan get US prison for Ponzi scheme