Nearly a dozen of Hans Seibt's angry investors sat in court Friday to watch a judge set $310,000 bail for the bankrupt Pahrump developer charged in a massive Ponzi scheme.
State prosecutors wanted a hefty bail for the 70-year-old, who stands charged with bilking seven of his investors, all senior citizens, out of $800,000.
After the hearing, the investors huddled around the two prosecutors and peppered them with questions.
"We're working very diligently to pursue this," Deputy Attorney General Adriana Escobar told the group.
Several investors later said that their financial losses dramatically altered their lives in their golden years. Some said they still feel embarrassed about being swindled.
"It's incredible to see him in prison scrubs and chains," said Marilyn Benoit, 65, who lost $600,000 she invested with Seibt.
Sheri Cole, 64, who lost about $500,000, said though she and her husband worry about making it in retirement, she found some consolation in knowing Seibt faces criminal charges.
"I feel better," she said. "It's taking a little of the stress off me."
Dorothy Subic, 79, said Seibt's jailing comes late, about three years after she lost $450,000.
"At least it happened," she said.
Subic's husband died two years ago in the middle of the couple's fight to get the money back.
"He just didn't want to fight anymore," she said. "He said, 'I'm checking out.' "
Eleanor Barnes, 82, who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, said she fears Seibt would flee the country if he made bail.
Ursula Rollins, 75, who lost $345,000, agreed.
"We want him to stay in jail," she said. "We've been waiting for this moment for three years."
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis Friday ordered Seibt, who has family in Germany, to surrender his passport and face a hearing, if he puts up bail, to determine the source of the funds.
The Ponzi scheme, which is being investigated by the FBI, involved millions of dollars and hundreds of investors in Nevada and around the country, authorities say.
Seibt left many investors without their life savings after he filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, reporting $70 million in debts, authorities allege.
Prosecutors charged Seibt with theft and securities fraud, saying he used two of his companies, HSLV Development Corp. and Clark and Nye County Development Corp., to solicit investments of $10,000 or more.
He offered trust deeds, joint venture agreements and subscription agreements, all of which were supposed to be secured by parcels of land Seibt was holding in Nye County. However, he grossly exaggerated the value of the land, investigators alleged.
Seibt told investors they would receive a return of 10 percent to 12 percent on their investments, but that ended up being a lie, the complaint charged. Instead of buying the land with the investment money, Seibt used the cash for his personal expenses and to pay off other investors, authorities said.
An Aug. 8 preliminary hearing has been set to determine whether Seibt should stand trial.