Posted at: 02/10/2014 10:50 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A 79-year-old Los Alamos man is under investigation after authorities say he bilked a bunch of other senior citizens out of a lot of money.
The case has shocked folks who know Jerome Beery, especially because of his reputation in los alamos.
Beery is a trusted member of an investing group at a Los Alamos senior center, and is a trusted source for financial advice in the senior community in the town.
"He was not austentacious," Dave Menicucci said. "He was, very low-key."
Beery's friends call him a financial wizard. Menicucci knows Beery after years of both attending the senior citizen investment ground at the White Rock Senior Center.
"He was perfectly forthcoming," Menicucci said. "He was always open with information."
The group is a place for seniors to meet and discuss investment opportunities and strategies.
"We're all retired. We all have basically the same kind of concerns," Menicucci said.
Beery was the helpful one -- often offering very successful advice about investments.
"He had applied a great deal of intelligence, and he came up with rules of thumb and ideas," Menicucci said. "He never asked for money."
Beery may have avoided asking the investment group for money, but the state says he was asking for money from other seniors.
"All kinds of things can go on, that you don't know about," Menicucci said.
State regulators say Beery started a, "... very risky and illegal scheme" targeting 10 Los Alamos seniors from Jan. 2007 to July 2013.
Beery is not a licensed stock broker.
According to the state, his scheme cost investors a total $170,000.
The Regulation and Lisencing Department says Beery allegedly "... used investors' own money to pay them back."
Two couples allegedly taken by the scheme lost a total $70,000 between them.
"We were just surprised because it wasn't in character," Menicucci said.
The state stops short of using the term "Ponzi scheme" to describe the allegations.
But the case echoes the basics of Ponzi schemer Doug Vaughn's fall from multi-millionaire to convicted criminal in 2011.
"There was absolutely nothing there on the surface," Menicucci said.
Menicucci says the group will stand by Beery as he fights the allegations.
"We can't rush to judgement and we won't rush to judgement," he said.
According to the state, this so called financial wizard has had money problems in the past.
Beery filed for bankruptcy in 1994 and has liens from the IRS for $126,000 in unpaid taxes.
He's been issued a cease and desist order to prevent him from selling any more investments, and the scheme is under investigation.
Beery did not return calls from KOB Eyewitness News 4.