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Cape Coral man pleads guilty in huge scam

The manager of a Naples investment company has pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of $120-million and using some of the money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle of upscale houses, autos and accessories.

David Mobley, 44, of Cape Coral pleaded guilty to various counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and use of illegally obtained funds on a property transaction in a plea bargain entered Friday before Magistrate Douglas Frazier in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

Mobley, the founder and owner of Maricopa International Investment Corp. of Naples, falsely portrayed himself throughout the 1990s as a successful money manager and hedge fund manager.

In the plea agreement, Mobley admitted to lying to hundreds of clients about how their money was being invested between September 1992 and mid-February 2000.

The funds supposedly were invested in stock market hedge funds using a computer-based trading model called the Predator System that Mobley told clients he had developed, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Instead, Mobley acknowledged using much of the money to pay off debts and buy personal items.

Among the purchases: $400,000 for a house in Naples, $1-million for a vacant lot in Naples, a house in Naples for his daughter, a $40,000 diamond ring, a $2-million bonus for himself, and an assortment of Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW automobiles.

He also created a company called Gray-storm Inc. and used investors' money to buy a $1.7-million home in Vail, Colo.

Mobley also funnelled some money to business ventures, including $4.7-million to the Stadium Naples project, about $6-million to Attitude Network, $1-million to Maricopa Hardy Development, $3-million to Diversified Capital and $1.4-million to the Heaven Cigar Bar.

To keep the scheme going, he gave investors false account statements. He also paid off some investors using money from other investors, creating the illusion that the hedge funds were profitable, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Mobley was charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission in early 2000 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October.

He faces a maximum term of five years in prison on each mail and wire fraud count, up to 10 years on each money laundering count, up to five years on a tax evasion count and up to 20 years on each count of using illegal funds for property transactions.

_ Jeff Harrington can be reached at harringtonsptimes.com or (813) 226-3407.

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