Posted on: December 26, 2022, 07:43h.
Last updated on: December 26, 2022, 11:44h.
A Las Vegas man is in custody for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme in which he pretended to invest for clients in the stock market and on sports bets, promising them returns from 1% to 52%. Instead, their money funded a personal gambling addiction that saw him lose millions of their dollars in Las Vegas casinos.
Rodney Buckle, 65, was arrested on Dec. 13, on a warrant for charges including securities fraud and theft, according to court documents identified by KLAS-TV. Buckle’s codefendant, Warisra Stevens, pleaded guilty last year to securities fraud and theft conspiracy charges. A judge sentenced her to a minimum of 19 months in prison.
This isn’t Buckle’s first tangle with authorities. According to KLAS, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a judgment in 1999 ordering him to pay $3 million in restitution to victims he sold $3 million worth of unregistered securities to while making false and misleading representations.
Good Morning, Professor Ponzi!
This time around, Buckle gained his victims’ trust by posing as an instructor in his money-making methods. Through businesses called Rodd University, Rodd United, and Rodd One, Buckle posed as a “life coach and financial advisor,” investigators with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office wrote in documents.
At some point, Buckle would tell all his “students” that he required more money “to create a ‘waterfall’ effect in order to generate ‘new’ money for investments” that would guarantee their returns, investigators wrote. The victims then took out loans, refinanced their homes, or opened up new credit cards.
“Investors stated that Buckle showed them a spreadsheet on his computer listing their name, and the amount they invested with him,” investigators wrote, “The investment amounts ranged from anything to $100 to over $700,000.”
Stevens, identified in documents as Buckle’s girlfriend, told investigators that Buckle withdrew nearly $25,000 a week of his victims’ money “for personal use and gambling.” Buckle placed $2.4 million worth of wagers at the Westgate Hotel and Casino sportsbook, where he lost $76,000, according to investigators. He also bet $440,000 at the South Point casino and lost $434,000.
State investigators were tipped off to Buckle’s new businesses in 2017. They were contacted by a couple who complained when they were never paid the 50% percent return they were promised on tens of thousands they had given him. They were ignored when they asked Buckle for some of it back due to a recent cancer diagnosis, investigators said.
In 2017, state investigators raided Buckle’s residence, seizing items including computers and gaming tickets. A warrant for his and Stevens’ arrest was issued in December 2019. According to KLAS, it appeared as though Buckle turned himself in.
A judge ordered Buckle held without bail, KLAS reported. He is due in court in January.