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Las Vegas lawyer pleads not guilty to Ponzi scheme, assault charge dropped

Updated March 31, 2023 - 7:17 pm

A Las Vegas lawyer accused of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme pleaded not guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges on Friday — the same day a federal assault charge against him was dismissed.

Matthew Beasley, 50, was indicted Wednesday in connection with the Ponzi scheme, which prosecutors allege he used to fund an “opulent lifestyle” of luxury homes, cars and recreational vehicles. He has been in custody since his arrest last year after he was shot by FBI agents at his Las Vegas home during an investigation into the scheme.

He initially was charged with one count of assault on a federal officer, but the case was dismissed on Friday, according to a court order signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Elayna Youchah.

“Beasley was indicted by a federal grand jury on wire fraud and money laundering charges, and the United States has decided to pursue those charges against him rather than the charge in the criminal complaint,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Schiess and Eric Schmale wrote in a motion to dismiss the assault charge.

Beasley appeared in court wearing a gray jail uniform and pleaded not guilty to five counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering during a hearing in front of Youchah on Friday afternoon.

He waived his right to hear a reading of the indictment on Friday.

“I know you are an attorney, you were trained as an attorney, but I still need to ask you, do you understand those rights?” the judge asked Beasley after telling him of his right to a jury trial.

“Yes, your honor,” Beasley replied.

His attorney, Jacqueline Tirinnanzi, asked for the judge to delay a detention hearing “in light of the motion to dismiss on the other case.” The judge ordered Beasley to appear in court again on April 7, and he was taken into custody again at the end of the hearing.

Beasley has been accused in lawsuits of operating the Ponzi scheme with his business partner, Jeffrey Judd, and targeting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Judd is not facing criminal charges.

Hundreds of people invested more than $460 million into the Ponzi scheme, according to the indictment. The scheme was the subject of a February investigation by The Washington Post, which partnered with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to report on the story using notes from slain Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.

The scheme started in 2017 and was pitched as an investment to earn annual returns of 50 percent by lending money to slip-and-fall victims awaiting checks after the settlement of their lawsuits, according to a civil complaint from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Instead, Beasley used money from new investors to pay earlier investors and create the illusion that personal injury plaintiffs existed, the indictment states.

Prosecutors have said that Beasley “repeatedly confessed” to his involvement in the Ponzi scheme during a standoff with federal agents at his home. Agents arrived at Beasley’s home after first raiding Judd’s mansion, according to court documents.

Beasley is accused of pointing the gun at himself, then pointing it toward agents. He then was shot in the chest and shoulder, and refused to leave his home for several hours while he was injured. During an interview with The Washington Post, Beasley denied pointing the gun at anyone other than himself.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. 

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