Lawyer granted release in $460M ‘slip-and-fall’ Ponzi scheme
Apr 7, 2023, 8:12 PM
(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas lawyer accused of orchestrating a $460 million “slip-and-fall” Ponzi scheme across the U.S. West was granted release Friday after spending more than a year in federal custody.
U.S. District Judge Cam Ferenbach said he was persuaded by Matthew Beasley’s “strong family support” to give the personal injury lawyer a chance at leading a “productive life” as he awaits trial on charges of money laundering and wire fraud.
While out of custody, Ferenbach said, Beasley is required to maintain employment and barred from contacting any of the alleged victims in the case or possessing a weapon.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Schiess told the judge the federal government would appeal the decision and ask for a court order keeping Beasley in custody pending the outcome of the appeal.
Beasley was indicted last week in connection with the alleged scheme but has been in custody since March 2022, when he was shot and wounded by FBI agents who arrived at his $1.1 million home in Las Vegas to question him.
Prosecutors have said Beasley answered the door that day with a gun aimed at his own head. A four-hour standoff ensued that ended after SWAT officers entered the home.
He was charged with assault on a federal officer, leading to his yearlong detainment, but that charge was dismissed last week following his indictment in connection with the alleged Ponzi scheme.
Friday’s hearing was at times contentious as Schiess argued for Beasley’s continued detainment, citing the standoff as evidence he poses a danger to the community and to himself.
Jackie Tirinnanzi, a lawyer for Beasley, told the judge her client has a renewed outlook on life as he awaits the birth of his grandchild. She said Beasley also wants to reconnect with his children and help take care of his mother, a breast cancer survivor who has trouble walking.
In a statement afterward, Beasley’s attorneys applauded the ruling.
“Mr. Beasley has languished in Nevada Southern Detention Center for 13 months after he was shot by two FBI agents, without a warrant, in his own home,” they said.
According to the indictment, the defendant enlisted hundreds of investors starting in 2017 for a company that claimed to offer short-term loans with high interest rates to clients awaiting payment after settling personal injury “slip-and-fall” cases. Investors were allegedly promised a return of up to 13% within 90 days.
But there were no clients, according to prosecutors. Instead, Beasley is alleged to have used the incoming money to pay earlier investors.
Schiess said the scheme funded Beasley’s “luxurious” lifestyle, including luxury homes and cars, a private jet and recreational vehicles.
Beasley has pleaded not guilty, but prosecutors say that during last year’s standoff, he confessed “over and over and over again” to his involvement in the investment scheme while on the phone with a negotiator.
His trial is set to begin in June.
The Nevada Supreme Court suspended Beasley from practicing law in the state and barred him from handling client funds shortly after his arrest.