Bellaire Resident Pleads Guilty In Multimillion Dollar Investment Fraud
Bellaire resident Melissa Marie Ramon has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud in connection with her operation of a fraudulent investment scheme.
Ramon, 33, entered the guilty plea this morning at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore, U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson announced.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 30.
Ramon faces a prison term of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution of approximately $3,080,000.
Ramon has been in federal custody since June 15, when her bond was revoked after the government presented evidence showing that, while out on bond, Ramon had defrauded people seeking to rent her home.
According to information in the plea agreement, from August 2004 through March 2007 Ramon solicited individuals to invest in an entity she called JaxTrece. Ramon falsely represented to investors that JaxTrece was a Paris-based international investment firm with thousands of investors and hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
Ramon told investors that JaxTrece provided bridge loans to nonprofit organizations which would be repaid with interest when pending grants were funded. Ramon also falsely told investors she was on the board of JaxTrece and held a doctorate from Rice University.
In fact, prosecutors said, JaxTrece did not exist and Ramon did not attend college.
Ramon obtained more than $4 million from investors from the scheme. She spent much of the money on personal items such as a Bellaire home, a second home in Wyoming and vacations.
Investigation into the case was handled by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa.