Tarakeswar Chaudhary of Tustin was sentenced Monday to 70 months in federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme that bilked dozens of members of the Indian community in Orange County and other parts of the nation out of about $9 million.

He also will have to repay his victims.

Chaudhary, 49, was arrested at San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 5, 2009, while attempting to flee to India, according to investigators.

At his sentencing in the Santa Ana court room of U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, victims “recounted how Chaudhary’s fraudulent scheme had caused them to lose retirement funds, college funds, and nest eggs that had been saved over the course of many years,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Several victims said they had known Chaudhary for decades, one said that Chaudhary was asking him to perform religious services on Chaudhary’s behalf while he was collecting funds for the bogus investment, and another said Chaudhary encouraged him to draw against a home equity line to raise cash to invest in the Ponzi scheme,” the release said.

Selna will determine on Nov. 1 how much Chaudhary owes each victim.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chaudhary in 2009 promised investors substantial returns on investments, saying he had special relationships with employees at investment banks like Goldman Sachs. An FBI investigation determined the relationships didn’t exist.


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