Florida congressman loses $18M in stock scheme
McLEAN, Va. — U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida lost $18 million in a scheme that cheated him and about 120 other investors out of more than $35 million, according to court papers.
The Virginia man who ran the scheme, William Dean Chapman, was sentenced on Friday in federal court to 12 years in prison. Prosecutors say Chapman used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a $3 million home.
In most of the court papers, Grayson’s identity is protected — prosecutors say only that an elected official with the initials A.G. was the primary victim — but documents twice mention Grayson by name. The Democratic congressman on Monday confirmed he is the A.G. in the documents.
Nothing in the court papers suggests Grayson was anything but a victim of the scheme. Grayson, a former trial attorney, said he has had a long record for picking winning stocks, which formed the basis for his personal fortune.
The scheme worked like this: clients would turn over stocks to Chapman as collateral for a loan, and Chapman would let customers borrow about 90 percent of the stocks’ value.
If the stocks did badly, borrowers could walk away and keep the money they were loaned. But if the borrowers’ stocks did well, they would repay the loan with interest, and Chapman was supposed to return the stocks to the investor at their increased value.
But, according to court papers, Chapman sold the stocks and had no way to fulfill his obligations if a client’s stock portfolio did well.
“That’s why (Chapman) is going to prison for a long, long time,” Grayson said.