William Wise, a former broker from Raleigh, North Carolina, has been sentenced to over 21 years in federal prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of more than $75 million. In April, a federal judge will determine how much restitution Wise will have to pay his victims.
Wise ran Millennium Bank from a west Raleigh office. It was purported to be a unit of a Swiss bank based on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. However, Wise later stated that it was really a front for a Ponzi scheme. Millennium promised investors a 16 percent return on certificates of deposit, but Wise and co-defendant Jacqueline Hoegel used investors' money to repay earlier investors and fund lavish lifestyles for themselves.
The Ponzi scheme ran from 1999 to late March 2009. Wise admitted that, from January 2004 to March 2009 alone, he and Hoegel sold more than $129.5 million worth of bogus CDs to more than 1,200 investors, resulting in losses of more than $75 million.
A receiver appointed by a federal court in Texas in 2009 to review Millennium's books found that Wise gave his wife a $12,000 weekly allowance and spent $6,000 to $10,000 a month each for his girlfriends, $1 million on wine, $800,000 to build a hangar in Atlanta for a corporate jet, $450,000 for three boats and an undetermined sum for a 2008 New Year's Eve party for 50 people on St. Vincent.
Wise was on the run for three years before surrendering to federal authorities in San Francisco in 2012. He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count each of money laundering, conspiracy to commit fraud and tax evasion.