Court Orders Wife of Accused Ponzi Schemer to Pay Millions of Dollars

Litigation Release No. 24348 / November 9, 2018

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Joseph Meli, et al., No. 17-CV-632 (S.D.N.Y. filed Jan. 27, 2017)

A federal court has ordered the wife of an accused Ponzi schemer to disgorge more than $4 million in investor funds.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Joseph Meli in January 2017 with fraud for running a Ponzi scheme. The SEC alleged that Joseph Meli raised money from investors to fund businesses purportedly created to purchase and resell tickets to such high-demand shows as Adele concerts and the Broadway musical Hamilton. Joseph Meli was criminally charged in a parallel case in which he pled guilty and was sentenced to a 78-month prison sentence. He also was ordered in the parallel criminal case to forfeit over $104 million, including a house in East Hampton, New York, and to pay over $56 million in restitution.

Jessica Ingber Meli is the wife of Joseph Meli. The SEC named Jessica Ingber Meli as a relief defendant for the purpose of recovering investor funds allegedly in her possession, including $3 million which was used to purchase the house in East Hampton in her name. She agreed to settle with the SEC, consenting to disgorgement and prejudgment interest of approximately $4 million. Because the house in East Hampton is subject to the forfeiture order entered against Joseph Meli in the parallel criminal case, approximately $3.2 million of the judgment will be deemed satisfied and Jessica Ingber Meli will be obligated to pay approximately $840,000.

Joseph Meli's co-defendant, Matthew Harriton, and several of Harriton's entities, settled the SEC's charges against them in July 2018. In September 2017, the SEC also charged Joseph Meli and New York sports radio personality Craig Carton with fraud for stealing millions of dollars from investors who were allegedly promised their funds would be used for the purchase and resale of concert tickets. The SEC's litigation against Joseph Meli and others in both cases is ongoing.

The SEC's case is being handled by Dahlia Rin, John McCann, Martin Healey, and Celia Moore of the Boston Regional Office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.