Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 | 4:24 p.m.
A former Las Vegas resident pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding victims of $1.4 million in an investment fraud and marketing scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Aneal Maharaj, 64, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of tax evasion, six counts of bank fraud and one count of making a false declaration in a bankruptcy, said Daniel Bogden, Nevada’s U.S. attorney.
Bogden said Maharaj had operated a multilevel marketing program from 1990 to 2004 in Las Vegas. He conned at least 17 people into investing between $25,000 and $500,000 in a business called “PowerNet Marketing Systems” and a home loan plan.
He told victims it would enable them to pay off a 30-year mortgage in five years or less. Investors were then encouraged to recruit additional people into the program to earn substantial commissions and incomes. He convinced at least one victim to hand over a $100,000 life insurance benefit. Maharaj also failed to file a tax return from 1995 to 2004.
Bogden said Maharaj initially was charged with mail and wire fraud in September 2005. Additional charges were filed against him in October 2008, but he fled to Fiji before his trial. He returned to the United States via extradition in November 2011.
Maharaj’s sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 16, and he faces up to 250 years in prison and $7.25 million in fines.