Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Community News Network

January 17, 2013

Ottumwan sentenced in Ponzi scheme

OTTUMWA — An Ottumwa man will spend more than seven years in federal prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme.

John Francis Holtsinger, 52, was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison on wire fraud and tax evasion charges. The sentence is consecutive to a five year sentence Holtsinger is already serving on state charges, which means it only begins after his release by the state.

Holtsinger was sentenced to state prison after multiple drunken driving convictions, according to Iowa Courts Online.

The U.S. Attorney's office said Holtsinger admitted to receiving more than $1.1 million from investors between 2005-2012. The money was intended for investment accounts, but Holtsinger used it for personal expenses and to pay back prior investors.

Holtsinger also admitted to attempting to coerce people into lying to law enforcement during the investigation by threatening that those who cooperated with investigators would not be repaid.

Holtsinger must repay $948,239 in restitution and must also serve 60 months of probation.

U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt said the sentence fit the seriousness of the crime.

“These victims thought they were investing their money in a safe place,” he said. “In reality, it was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. I am pleased that Holtsinger will have to spend more than seven years in jail as punishment for defrauding people who considered him to be a friend, and I hope his sentence will convince anyone else who might be tempted to engage in similar conduct not to do so.”

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

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