Three Lower Keys residents were jailed after state investigators said they swindled about $7 million out of more than 20 investors by promising to make their money grow.
Jose Luis Leon, 56, of Key West, Richard A. Renner, 56, whose jail records said he lives on Big Coppitt Key, and Natalie Marie Rogers, 53, of Key West, were arrested Monday on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, securities fraud, organized fraud and grand theft in the first degree.
Both Leon and Renner on Tuesday were at the Stock Island Detention Center on $1 million bond each.
Rogers posted $30,000 — to make good on a $300,000 bond — about six hours after being arrested Monday.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) is the lead investigative agency in the criminal case.
Between 2001 and 2017, Leon, Renner and Rogers ran Strategic Holdings Group, LTD., a purported investment fund company that attracted investors through word of mouth and brochure advertising, investigators said.
“Leon and Renner represented themselves as sophisticated and experienced money managers who claimed they could provide access to exclusive investments, such as energy-related limited partnerships, real estate, tax liens, private equity, precious metals and other ‘alternative assets,’” according to a statement by OFR on Tuesday.
These investments, they claimed, would yield about 8 percent per year for investors.
Investors bought “partnership interests,” or private subscription agreements offered by Strategic and some placed money in Individual Retirement Accounts for the company to manage.
But Leon and Renner took the investor funds to make their mortgage payments, pay their personal credit cards or simply make cash withdrawals for personal use, OFR said.
“Investors were provided with fraudulent account statements showing that their funds had grown substantially while invested with the company,” according to OFR.
The case is being prosecuted by the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.