It’s not looking good for William J. Chaucer Jr.’s reign as King of Zeus in 2010.
Investigators with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office along with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested the Ponchatoula man today for allegedly creating a Ponzi scheme they say has cost at least 200 investors over $11 million dollars. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation between the AG’s Special Prosecutions Unit and Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions and was conducted under the supervision of 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.
Chaucer was arrested on 20 counts each of the following: felony theft, unregistered dealer/salesman/investment advisor in the sale of securities, sales of unregistered securities, and making material misrepresentations in the sale of a security. He was booked into Tangipahoa Parish Prison; bond has not been set.
Chaucer is the principal of Chaucer Holding Company and finance companies Chaucer Financial Services, American Credit of Hammond, American Credit of Covington, and City Credit of Ponchatoula.
The AG says Chaucer told individual investors their money would be invested to fund one of his loan companies, but in fact, the vast majority of their money was used to finance Chaucer and his wife's extravagant lifestyle. Investigators claim investors unwittingly paid for more than $400,000 worth of Mardi Gras krewe memberships and krewe related expenses for the Chaucers, $5,500 in plastic surgery and $11,800 in cosmetic dental work for Cheryl Chaucer, $5,558 for tickets to and ads for the Senior America, Inc. pageant contest in which Mrs. Chaucer was a participant, $14,275.74 in miscellaneous photos, $20,905.74 in jewelry, and thousands more dollars associated with Mrs. Chaucer’s participation in beauty pageant events.
Chaucer closed his finance companies’ business operations in September 2009. Since then, none of the investors, whose individual investments ranged from $10,000 to $417,000, have received any funds from Chaucer or his companies. Since August, area residents and alleged victims have been posting comments to a glowing feature of the businessman in Sophisticated Woman magazine. The Northshore magazine also did a feature on Cheryl Chaucer titled "A True Louisiana Treasure."
The AG says several investors reported that requests to Chaucer to liquidate their assets and have their money returned were rejected.
DA Perrilloux will handle the prosecution of this case.