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Ponzi scheme leader to serve 20 years in prison

Arthur Lamar Adams as he leaves the courthouse. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

After pleading guilty to what has been called the state’s largest Ponzi scheme, Arthur Lamar Adams has been sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. 

Adams was charged with two counts of wire fraud involving a scheme to defraud investors and one count of bank fraud for his role in the scheme that swindled more than 320 people out of more than $165 million across 14 states. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker is among those who have come forward as a victim of Adams’ scheme which went on from 2011 to 2018.

The scheme centered around Adams’ company, Madison Timber Properties, as a way to entice investors to give money. Adams claimed that he was in the business of buying timber rights from landowners and then selling the timber rights to lumber mills at a higher price. However, neither Adams nor his company possessed the proper rights or contracts with lumber mills, except in a few instances.

According to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Adams guaranteed his investors a 12-13% interest rate on their investment. Adams used false documents and forged signatures to gain legitimacy and convince investors that their investments were secured by sufficient collateral from which they could recover all or part of their investment in the event that Madison Timber Properties defaulted on the loans.

“Justice was served today, but does not end today,” Hurst said. “While this fraudster will now spend almost the rest of his entire life behind bars, we will not rest until restitution is recovered and victims are restored. My heart goes out to those who lost their retirement, their life savings, their lifelines to this greedy, selfish man. Rest assured that we will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to root out fraud in the future and bring these criminals to justice.” 

Following Adams’ guilty plea in May, his attorney, John Collette, stated that his client was fully cooperating with law enforcement to help recover funds that victims had lost. 

“He’s very remorseful to anybody who lost any money, and he’s doing everything in his power now that the government can maximize recovery of various assets that may or not still be out there,” Collette said at the time.

After the scheme was uncovered, a website was created by a court-appointed receiver to help provide information to defrauded investors.

20 years was the maximum sentence in the case. 

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