A Ponzi scheme operator whose prison sentence was commuted by former US President Donald Trump has been charged with similar fraud.
Eli Weinstein, 48, was one of 143 people whose convictions were fully pardoned or commuted in Mr Trump’s final hours in office.
But within a year of publication, Mr Weinstein had launched a scheme to defraud at least 150 investors.
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that he “picked up where he left off.”
Mr. Weinstein, of Lakewood, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to two separate investment fraud schemes — in 2013, in a real estate Ponzi scheme, and in 2015, to wire fraud during an investigation into the Ponzi scheme.
His crimes cost victims more than $224m (£174m).
In Mr Trump’s final year in office, he served eight years of a 24-year sentence.
People close to the then-president petitioned for Mr Weinstein’s release, arguing he had not received a fair trial.
The group includes Mr Trump’s first impeachment lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, and Nick Musin, a longtime ally of Mr Trump’s chief of staff.
On his last day in office, Mr Trump commuted Mr Weinstein’s sentence and released him on the same day. The White House described him as “a loving husband and father of seven.”
Using the pseudonym “Mike Koenig”, he and four accomplices created fake investment funds to cover up his criminal past.
They told prospective investors that they would be used for “lucrative deals involving Covid-19 masks, rare baby formula and first-aid kits going to Ukraine.”
“These were brazen and sophisticated crimes that involved multiple conspirators and were taken right out of Weinstein’s fraud playbook,” U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip Selinger said Wednesday.
Mr Weinstein and his co-conspirators face up to 25 years in prison on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil complaint against him and five others for his actions.