WASHINGTON D.C. - The Office of Public Affairs U.S. Department of Justice is reporting that a Florida man pleaded guilty Wednesday in the Southern District of Ohio to using his hedge fund management company as part of a years-long Ponzi scheme.
According to court documents, Michael Wayne Williams, 48, of Miami, was the chief executive officer and investment manager of Highguard Capital and its affiliated entities, Guardian Opportunity Fund and Guardian Opportunity Management. Williams convinced victims to invest over $3 million in Guardian Opportunity Management and used their money for undisclosed and unauthorized purposes, including to settle civil lawsuits accusing him of fraud and to repay investors from discontinued funds that he previously managed.
In early February and March 2021, Williams convinced a Mississippi woman to invest $1,005,000 into Guardian Opportunity Management. Williams did not inform her that Guardian Opportunity Management’s principal investment vehicle, Guardian Opportunity Fund, had recently lost 90% of its assets under management and that Williams intended to use her money to repay other investors in Guardian Opportunity Management, who were threatening legal action against him.
Williams pleaded guilty to wire fraud and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI Washington Field Office investigated the case.
Trial Attorney David A. Peters of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Elise Kent Bernanke, formerly of the Criminal Division, are prosecuting the case.