A Florida Private Equity Executive Charged $140 Million In Fraud

Elliot Sperling, an erstwhile Florida private-equity executive, pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud charges in Manhattan, admitting to a federal judge that he misled banks and investors to acquire $140 million for his company, JES Capital Group.

"Good morning, Your Honor," Smerling said, "I'm guilty of bank and wire fraud." Beginning in 2013, he said he misled two federally insured banks and investors, fabricating audit letters and signatures to get loans and investment funds.

According to a plea deal, Smerling, detained as a flight risk following his February arrest, faces a possible max sentence of 50 years in prison and has accepted to relinquish and pay damages of nearly $134 million.

According to the FBI, the defendant, a well-known figure in southwest Florida with two huge residences and a fleet of expensive automobiles, lied for years before his arrest to support his private equity firm.

Although charging documents in New York do not name his fund or victims, JES Global has been targeted in federal courts in Manhattan and West Palm Beach, Florida by both Silicon Valley Bank and Citizens Bank. Both banks were successful in their lawsuits against Smerling and JES Global Capital.

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