|By Pamela Lehman, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
About 70 people attended the hearing for
At Monday's hearing before District Judge
Freer remains in county prison under
During the brief hearing, some members of the audience shouted out to Freer, calling him a coward and demanding he turn around. One woman said she hoped Freer would die.
Freer, who wore leg shackles and handcuffs, kept his head lowered and avoided eye contact with his alleged victims.
Assistant District Attorney
Blake said Monday that many of those who attended the hearing had the same question — will I get my money back?
Blake said investigators have not uncovered any "offshore accounts or hidden treasure" belonging to Freer that may be used for restitution. At the time of his arrest in September, authorities say Freer's bank account was listed only in the "five figures."
Blake said authorities believe Freer used the money he stole to support the Ponzi scheme and pay annuities to those who had already invested with him. Authorities say Blake and his wife did not live lavishly in their rented home at
After the hearing, one of the more than 90 alleged victims,
"Now I can't afford to pay taxes and I can't afford to die and be buried," Curto said. "He made a career out of stealing people's money on a daily basis."
Others who attended Monday's hearing declined to comment.
The six-month probe began with a tip from one of the investors, and authorities said as investigators would freeze Freer's bank accounts, he would simply open other accounts with new investment funds.
Freer faces dozens of charges recommended by a grand jury, including theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, forgery, deceptive business practices, failure to register under the state securities act and purchases in violation of the act.
Authorities say the investigation began in March with only one victim, 80-year-old
According to the grand jury presentment:
Freer worked for
While working for Aviva, Freer began the alleged Ponzi scheme, offering investors high-yield investments with little or no risk, authorities said. Freer was fired from Aviva in 2009 but continued to tell his clients that their investments were with the company.
Authorities said Morris' problems with the
Investigators said as Freer persuaded clients to invest with him, they recommended other family and friends. Although Freer sent some annual payments to his clients, he withdrew the money from other accounts funded by Freer's growing list of investors, court records state.
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