LIMA, PERU: Police in Peru say they’ve arrested a 59-year-old former Wayne County man wanted in Ohio for an alleged Ponzi scheme in which $65 million was raised from at least 800 investors in the United States and Latin America more than a decade ago.
Police Col. Oscar Llatas says Eric Bartoli was arrested Wednesday leaving his oceanfront Lima home, two years after U.S. authorities requested Bartoli’s extradition.
The FBI says Bartoli has been wanted since 2003 for crimes including securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
An FBI wanted notice posted online says he operated Cyprus Funds Inc., out of Doylestown, from 1995-1999, channeling most of the money invested for his personal use and preying on people including retirees.
The FBI said one of Bartoli’s partners died and others served prison terms.
“We are thankful for our continued partnership with the international law enforcement community. A team of Cleveland and international FBI resources worked closely with the Peruvian authorities to locate and apprehend Eric Bartoli,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland office in a statement. “We hope that the long-awaited prosecution of Bartoli will provide some satisfaction to the many individuals he defrauded.”
Authorities believe since fleeing Wayne County, Bartoli has moved through six states, Europe and Central and South America. He has lived in Peru since late 2000.
Bartoli has since become a Peruvian citizen and has worked as an investment adviser, a financial adviser and land developer.
His victims claim Bartoli lured them into investing in nonexistent stocks in Peruvian gold and silver.
He was indicted in 2003 on charges of running a scam through his so-called Cyprus Funds, a mutual fund he created. Authorities say the fund was nothing more than a financial shell game with Bartoli and his associates pocketing the money.
He faces charges of money laundering, securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and attempted tax evasion. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission levied a $49 million civil judgment against him for selling unregistered securities and tax evasion.
Federal authorities charge that Bartoli raised about $65 million, but only invested about $4 million. His victims — estimated at about 800 — included wealthy Latin Americans and retirees in Northeast Ohio. Some $31 million was recovered and returned to investors.
Bartoli left his Wayne County mansion sometime in August 1999, authorities say, just days ahead of the SEC raid.
The government seized his Marshallville home, the Cyprus Funds headquarters and two other businesses run by his wife in Doylestown.
Three men worked as Cyprus Funds co-directors. Douglas Shisler of Doylestown and Peter J. Esposito of Middleburg Heights served less than three years in federal prison before being freed. A third partner, James L. Binge of Jackson Township in Stark County, died while his case was pending.
“We are gratified by all the hard work that was done to bring Mr. Bartoli into custody,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in a statement.
Bartoli face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and more than 10 years in jail, in addition to the $49 million civil judgment.