Ponzi Schemer Hays Ordered to Pay $84M in 2nd Case

Charles Hays, who was already sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $21.8 million in restitution in a criminal case, now faces a fine of $64.8 million-a huge sum that a judge describes as "largely academic" and meant to deter others from committing fraud.

Charles Hays-a Ponzi schemer from Rosemount who was sentenced in April to nearly 10 years in prison-now must pay millions in a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

In his criminal case, Hays was ordered to pay $21.8 million in restitution in addition to serving time behind bars. In December 2009, the CFTC filed a separate suit against him seeking fines and an order to ban Hays from trading commodities.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank last week ordered Hays and his firm, Crossfire, LLC, to pay a fine of nearly $64.8 million-more than triple the monetary gain from their fraud scheme. He and his firm are also required to disgorge nearly $20 million.

“Hays' conduct, which spanned eight years and resulted in over $20 million in losses, shows what little regard Hays had for the futures market,” Donovan wrote in his order.

According to court documents, Hays must first pay out for his criminal case. The massive monetary penalties he faces from both lawsuits should serve as an example for other fraud cases, according to the judge's order.

“Given that Hays must repay his criminal penalty before turning to his civil penalty, the imposition of a civil monetary fine (or for that matter, disgorgement) is largely academic,” Donovan wrote. “Nonetheless, the court was persuaded by the CFTC's comments at the motion hearing that this action is necessary to adequately address defendants' violations and deter against future violations while the events leading to this lawsuit are fresh in people's minds.”

Hays was arrested in February 2009 and charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. He pleaded guilty in April 2009 to single counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and structuring transactions to avoid financial reporting requirements.

Hays admitted to operating a shell company, Crossfire Trading, and falsely telling investors that their money had been put into commodity pools from January 2001 to February 2009. Hays also admitted to telling investors that he day-traded in stock index and crude oil futures, and he told potential investors that his trading earned approximately 3 percent per month.

In all, he solicited about $40 million from 114 investors, and he repaid some investors with funds from new investors-misrepresenting where the money originated.