Robert Shapiro, the former CEO of the Woodbridge Group of Cos., has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to what prosecutors described as a $1.3 billion real estate loan Ponzi scheme that hurt thousands of investors.
Shapiro entered guilty pleas Wednesday to tax evasion and conspiracy charges brought by federal prosecutors in Florida, The Wall Street Journal reports. He has agreed to forfeit assets seized from his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., including fine art by Picasso and Renoir, wine, cars, and jewelry.
Woodbridge told investors it could provide them with stable returns by making secured loans to purchasers of real estate. In most cases, however, investment properties were owned by shell companies that Shapiro controlled. Woodbridge filed for bankruptcy in late 2017 and admitted to being a Ponzi scheme, paying off older investors with money from newer ones. Shapiro also misappropriated between $25 million and $95 million for himself and his family, according to documents filed by authorities.
Shapiro’s sentencing is scheduled for October. He could face up to 25 years in prison.