Al Petty's telecom 2000 telemarketing scheme finally caught up with him Thursday.
After taking in more than 16 million dollars from investors, many who were elderly East Texans, the 69-year-old Overton man will be spending the next 292 months in federal prison. That's roughly 24 years.
"We have estimated there are over 2,500 victims," says U.S. Attorney Matthew Orwig. "And anytime you have that number of victims in a case it is certainly going to receive a lot of attention."
All along petty has maintained Telecom 2000 was a legitimate business, not a ponzi scheme. That's when there's not enough income generated to pay guaranteed returns to everyone and where early investors are paid with money from later investors. Even after Petty's conviction and sentence, many supporters believe their friend is honest, not a con artist.
"The testimony is just the contrary to that," says al Perkins, a Petty supporter. "Everybody thinks very highly of him. He's a devout Christian and He's a very gifted person in many areas, music and business too."
"There will always be those in the classic ponzi scheme like this that don't consider themselves victims or don't know that they are victim's because their return on their investment," says Matthew Orwig, U.S. Attorney. "But, it was an overall scheme that was bound to victimize a large number of people."
In the end, more than 8 million dollars was lost by victims in Petty's Telecom 2000 scheme. Petty's millions in forfeited assets will now be used to pay restitution while he pays back his debt to society.