Man who ran Ponzi scheme gets 20 years
David Lewalski, who operated an investment company that authorities said was actually a $30 million Ponzi scheme, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud. He also was ordered to forfeit $29.8 million, numerous computers and computer equipment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Lewalski, 48, ran Botfly LLC from an office in Bayonet Point. The company promised returns of up to 10 percent a month in the foreign currency market. But in reality, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Botfly was an investment fraud scheme that raised about $30 million from 500 investors but used only about $2.6 million for trading — most of which was lost. Lewalski also spent millions on personal luxuries including high-end real estate, private jet travel, luxury automobiles, computer equipment and jewelry. Last year, the Florida Attorney General's Office sued Lewalski and partner Jon J. Hammill of St. Petersburg to shut Botfly down, freeze its assets and return investors' money. Investors are now submitting claims to the receiver.
NEW PORT RICHEY
Police ID body found in home
Authorities have identified the 44-year-old man whose body was found Monday evening in a vacant home. Samuel Martinez Pratts died in a home at 7440 U.S. 19, where officers found the scene "suspicious in nature," according to New Port Richey police. Pratts' last known address was 7740 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill. Police have not released a cause of death but said the man had suffered trauma to his body. Pratts' death is being investigated as a homicide. Anyone with information about the case may call the New Port Richey Police Department at (727) 841-4553 and ask for Detective Chris Mellecker or Detective Mike Anderson.
'City of Angels' auditions coming
Richey Suncoast Theatre will hold auditions for City of Angels, a musical comedy, at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 at the theater, 6237 Grand Blvd. The production needs five men and three women; singing and dancing will be required. For more information, call the box office at (727) 842-6777.
Expressions, the Dance Company, is putting on the Dec. 16 production of The Nutcracker at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge. Tickets may be purchased by calling (727) 505-6211. A listing on Friday's Diversions page had incorrect information about the name of the dance company and the phone number for buying tickets.
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