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Posted Friday, November 11, 2009
Man who apparently emulates Madoff enters a guilty plea after defrauding Haitian-Americans of at least $14 million
By South Florida Business Journal
The second of three men charged with running a Ponzi scheme that targeted the Haitian-American community pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Abner Alabre, 33, of Miramar, along with Brian Taglieri, 39, of Jupiter, and Ronnie Eugene Bass Jr., 37, of Miramar, were charged in October in connection with a scheme to defraud more than 600 investors throughout South Florida. No sentencing date has yet been set for Alabre.

It was alleged that, between April 2008 and March 2009, the group, through their Delray Beach-based company Homepals Investment Club LLC and its affiliates, operated as a Ponzi scheme that promised investors up to a 100 percent return in just 90 days.

Although investors were often told that these high returns would be generated through securities trading, the defendants simply used new investors' money to pay promised returns to existing investors,” according to a news release from the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

The group raised more than $12 million and investors lost more than $6 million. Part of the money was used to buy interests in a nightclub, a cigar business operated by Michael Muzio, and to pay for other personal expenses.

Muzio, 45, of Tampa, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering as part of the scheme.

Last month, Taglieri, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He has not yet been sentenced.

Bass has not entered a plea.

Published Friday, December 11, 2009.
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