Thursday, May 24, 2018
Business

Pasco man facing fraud accusations is found dead in car

PALM HARBOR — A 55-year-old Pasco County man facing accusations of foreign currency fraud and heading a Ponzi scheme operation was found dead in a parked car off U.S. 19 early Monday, authorities said.

William Jeffery Chandler died inside a four-door Mercedes parked on Cypress Pond Road, in front of the Muvico Theaters, just before 4 a.m., according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

He had suffered what appeared to be "self-inflicted wounds," said spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda. She would not elaborate.

Chandler's assets were frozen last month after the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued an emergency order prohibiting Chandler from touching his assets, in part to prevent him from destroying evidence in a foreign currency fraud and misappropriation case, federal officials confirmed.

A civil suit by the commission alleges that Chandler solicited at least six individuals to contribute about $773,100 to a pooled account in Switzerland. That money then would be used to buy or sell a certain amount of a foreign currency at a fixed price in U.S. dollars.

Federal officials said Chandler guaranteed his benefactors a 2 percent to 12.5 percent return on investment every month in a low-risk, high-reward contract.

But investors never saw the money.

Chandler's account was transferred from the Swiss bank to a U.S.-based foreign exchange dealer in August, but at that time the account's balance only amounted to $292.49.

It is believed Chandler had been misappropriating the pool's funds for personal use. He refused to refund investments to participants and continued to solicit buy-ins to the pool even after the Department of Justice got involved, the complaint says.

The suit also alleges that Chandler fabricated an accounting firm by the name of A.R. Watkins and used it to deal with investors.

Commission officials declined to comment on what Chandler's death means for this case or the investors, several of whom reside in Florida.

At least one of the complainants against Chandler posted an advertisement on several local Craigslist pages asking if anyone in the area had been conned by Chandler, who the page referred to as a "fraudster" and "liar."

It asks that police be notified if anyone encounters Chandler.

Chandler has a history of fraud.

In 1991, he was indicted by a federal court for bank fraud and obtaining money, funds and credits of a bank under false pretenses, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

He was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison, of which he served about eight months in a federal prison in Tennessee. He served three years of probation from the time he was released in February 1992, officials said.

Further information on Chandler's death was not available pending the results of an autopsy and toxicology exam, the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office said.

Times researcher Caryn Baird and Times staff writer Erin Sullivan contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804 or on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.

Comments
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA ó Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didnít start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW ó Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH ó Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers di...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmonís was a meeting place

Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmonís was a meeting place

Itís where former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams had lunch with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.Itís where University of South Florida fans often gathered to watch the programís biggest road games.Itís where folks showed up in...
Updated: 9 hours ago
An Amazon Echo recorded a familyís conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says

An Amazon Echo recorded a familyís conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says

A family in Portland, Oregon, received a nightmarish phone call two weeks ago."Unplug your Alexa devices right now," a voice on the other line said. "Youíre being hacked."Apparently, one of Amazon.comís Alexa-powered Echo devices in their house had s...
Updated: 9 hours ago
As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

Home sale prices continued to rise both nationally and statewide in April as a prolonged dearth of available homes on the market is making it tough on buyers. A total of 24,804 single-family homes changed hands across Florida last month, up 4.1 perce...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Brink: A 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a rotten idea for Florida

Brink: A 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a rotten idea for Florida

No matter your politics, the proposed 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a lousy idea.Itís regressive, burdening the poor and working class more than the rich.Federal interference with state transportation projects can raise costs, layer on regul...
Published: 05/24/18
Tutor looks to empower athletes in Wesley Chapel

Tutor looks to empower athletes in Wesley Chapel

Rashay Hudson operates a tutoring business in Wesley Chapel, and NaDorian Hudson has played basketball his entire life, including in college and the ABA. Now, the husband and wife duo are combining their areas of expertise with a new program for kids...
Published: 05/24/18
Bar builder finds solid success in Tampa

Bar builder finds solid success in Tampa

TAMPA ó Ever since he was a little boy, Chris Davenport loved to build things with Legos and erector sets. As he grew older, he spent time working with his dad, a carpenter, and then took welding classes in high school. While in college studying engi...
Published: 05/24/18
Metro Diner brings fare to South Tampa

Metro Diner brings fare to South Tampa

Metro Diner, having already established several locations across Florida, including St. Petersburg, now brings its large portion-sized comfort food options across the bay.The local diner is slated to open Tuesday (May 29) at 4011 W Kennedy Blvd and w...
Published: 05/24/18