September 6 2011
LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley man pleaded guilty to this afternoon to mail fraud charges after taking millions of dollars from victims – including friends and family members – who thought they were financing a wholesale business that distributed NASCAR merchandise.
Eliott Jay Dresher, 64, of Chatsworth, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.
In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Dresher admitted that he fraudulently took in more than $13.5 million from victims during the course of a Ponzi scheme that lasted more than a decade. As a result of his criminal activity, more than two dozen families suffered losses of at least $5 million, although that figure could be as high as $9.5 million.
Dresher solicited money from investors by telling them that he had an inside connection that allowed him to purchase NASCAR apparel and merchandise at a discount, and that he then sold that merchandise to “big box” stores, such as Costco, for a substantial profit. As part of his scheme, Dresher guaranteed substantial monthly returns – typically between 20 percent and 25 percent every six months. However, Dresher did not actually have any inside source and did not operate a business to buy and sell NASCAR-related merchandise. Instead, all of the funds paid to investors were “Ponzi” payments that came from money invested by victims.
The specific mail fraud count to which Dresher pleaded guilty relates to more than $250,000 that he solicited from a longtime friend who at the time had been unemployed for more than three months.
Judge Gutierrez scheduled a sentencing hearing for December 19. As a result of his guilty plea to the mail fraud charge, Dresher faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Dresher has been held without bond since his arrest in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 2009.
The case against Dresher was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney James A. Bowman
Major Frauds Section
Release No. 11-126