California Man Gets 100 Years For Ponzi Scheme

Richard Harkless, 65, of Riverside, Calif., was sentenced to 100 years in federal prison for orchestrating a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors say Harkless promised to invest money in government-backed construction loans, and promised returns as high as 14 percent every three months. The scheme collapsed in 2004.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Another Ponzi schemer jailed for life is at the top of NPR's business news.

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INSKEEP: Richard Monroe Harkless has joined the growing list of jailed Ponzi artists. Yesterday, a judge in Southern California sentenced the man for bilking investors of about $35 million - that's million with an M. Presumably, when he heard about Bernard Madoff taking 50 billion, he was very disappointed in himself.

Still, Mr. Harkless bilked some 700 or so people. Prosecutors say he promised to invest money in government-backed construction loans and promised returns as high as 14 percent every three months. The scheme collapsed in 2004.

According to the Los Angeles Times, he has shown no remorse. He blames his losses on a failed business model and says his agents made the false promises.

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