After a Georgia couple wired $170,000 from their sprinkler company with Norman Strell Castleberry Financial Services, a Wellington investment firm, they were promised they’d get a good return on their investment and that their money would be protected. Instead, The couple’s $170,000 was utilized to help buy a palatial $1.5 million house off Paddock Drive at which the principals of the currently shuttered real estate investment company live.
In court documents unsealed Thursday, an FBI representative Stated the Georgia couple, who were identified only by their initials, were one of 12 investors who were bilked out of $2.8 million by Castleberry Financial Services Group.
History of Investment Fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission said the losses are more. When government regulators in March convinced a federal judge to close Castleberry to prevent further fraud, they estimated it had bilked at least 3.6 million from 15 investors nationwide. The claims business officials made to shareholders were as fake as the diplomas company president Jonathan Turner hung in his office, the FBI agent said.
Turner claimed to have a master’s degree in business Administration from Emory University and a law degree from William Howard Taft University. Turner, who changed his title from Jon Barri Brothers, never went to school, FBI agent Jason Darling wrote. Instead, Turner is a convicted felon who was released from prison at 2016 following serving a seven-year stint about 25 fraud-related fees he racked up in Miami.
Turner, 52, appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday to Face a charge of wire fraud concerning Castleberry’s operations. He is to be arraigned on May 10 about the fee that is punishable with a maximum 30-year prison term.
In its petition for a controlling Order to close Castleberry, the SEC named 72-year-old Norma Strell Castleberry Financial along with his 44-year-old daughter, Suzanne Strell, as officials of the firm. Suzanne Strell is engaged to be married to Turner. Norman Strell In November was charged with filing a false insurance claim after state insurance researchers claimed he filed a bogus $8,900 bill for damages he blamed Hurricane Irma. In March, he agreed to repay the insurance company as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.
Neither Strell nor his daughter has now been charged in connection with their roles at Castleberry, according to court records. But, in the criminal complaint filed against Turner, the FBI representative refers to “defendants” and mentions both Strell and his daughter a portion of the fruits of Castleberry’s activities.
On its site and in media interviews, Castleberry encouraged itself as a wise investor in real estate and distressed businesses. It touted a five-year history of”deploying nearly $800 million in capital throughout the balance sheets of leading local businesses,” Darling wrote. Yields of roughly 8 percent to 13 percent each year. Additionally, it claimed, the investors’ money was shielded by top insurers. Neither claim was true,” Darling said.
Likewise, Rather than investing in distressed Businesses and real estate, Turner along with other unnamed”defendants” used investors’ money as their personal piggy bank, Darling said.
For Example, the broker said, at least $427,000 was utilized to purchase and improve the sprawling house overlooking a golf course the three common in Wellington. Still, another $238,000 ended up in a bank account belonging to both Turner and Suzanne Strell. Another $377,000 was funneled into Castleberry All Sports, a business owned by Turner and Norman Strell.
The business operated from April 2016 until February, when it was raided by federal agents.
SEC Alleges $3.6M Investor Fraud Castleberry Financial Services
The FBI fraud allegations against Norman Strell are just some of the problems for Castleberry Financial. Recently, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed fraud charges against Castleberry Financial Services, its president T. Jonathon Turner, and CEO Norman M. Strell accusing them of running an investment finance scam that enrolls at investors of $3.6M in the last year and continues to solicit new investors. The regulator also announced an asset freeze against the organization’s operators. According to Florida, Castleberry, which is a limited liability company, and its own investment offerings aren’t registered with the SEC.
As stated by the Commission’s emergency actions:
- Castleberry falsely represented that it had hundreds of investment properties in its portfolio, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars invested in local companies. In addition, in reality, the company never made significant earnings from investments.
- Additionally, it allegedly concealed that Turner, formerly known as John Barri Brothers, had served 18 years in prison until 2016 for multiple felonies, including fraud, forgery, and theft. Meantime, Castleberry falsely stated in advertising materials and on its website that Turner had”extensive” experience in the fund sector, as well as JD and MBA degrees. He’s never been registered with the SEC.
Strell, who had been criminally charged last November associated with a false and fraudulent insurance claim and uttering a forgery, is currently not registered with the SEC. He was, however, formerly enrolled with quite a few broker-dealers.
- Investors were told that their money would go into property and distressed businesses. Rather, Strell and Turner supposedly used their cash for their expenses and other businesses they functioned, in addition to transferred a number of their capital to relatives.
- The firm complied high returns and”principal-protected ‘equity-like’ fixed income returns.” They told investors that their principal will be bonded and insured from Chubb Group and CNA Financial Group, two carriers that, in reality, had no ties with Castleberry whatsoever.
The Investment Loss Recovery Group attorneys are helping investors fight to get back the losses that they sustained due to fraud, neglect, and other wrongdoing. Investment Loss Recovery Group would like to give you a complimentary, no obligation instance consultation in order that we will help you decide if you have grounds for a claim by calling 1 (888) 628) 5590.
Tom Barron has Bachelors Degree from Michigan State, MBA from University of Miami and worked as equities trader for Bank of America. When he is covering investment news, he is spending time with his family. Hobbies include golf and travel.