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Florida concert promoter accused of massive fraud

An Orlando TV station reports that a former Florida concert promoter will be facing white-collar charges this fall. Prosecutors say the man's Worldwide Entertainment Inc. was a Ponzi scheme in which investors poured $300 million into the front-end and the defendant took funds from the back end for personal use and to pay off earlier investors. He faces accusations in federal court of fraud and money launderingthis November.

The man was extradited from Brazil late last year, where he had apparently lived for a number of years. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, WOFL reports.

Before his legal troubles, he and Worldwide Entertainment staged tours by some of the biggest names in the music world, including the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Elton John and the Pretenders, among many others, the Miami Herald reported last year.

According to prosecutors, the man fled to Brazil to avoid prosecution, but his criminal defense attorneys say the South Florida man had been living there since 2007. He was sued for fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2006.

However, the suit was settled in 2009 for $4 million -- an amount the SEC says it never received.

The former TWA pilot-turned-concert-promoter blames the financial collapse of his business on expansion carried out too rapidly.

Obviously, the government's version of events differs wildly from the promoter's version, which is why the two sides will meet in court a few months from now. In similar cases, the government sometimes assumes ulterior criminal motives in situations in which a once-thriving business simply takes a turn for the worse due to economic conditions.

If you find your business and reputation being called into question, and your freedom put on the line by criminal accusations of fraud, talk to a criminal defense attorney who understands how the prosecution works. Mark L. Horwitz has worked as a federal prosecutor on mail and wire fraud cases, as well as on tax evasion and healthcare fraud cases. For the past 35 years, he has fought to defend clients accused of white-collar crimes.

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