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Bad check suspect may have swiped millions of dollars in separate Ponzi scheme

Spell bonded out on Monday

POSTED: February 3, 2009 11:30 p.m.
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Wendell Spell

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A man alleged to have bilked area investors out of millions spent five hours in the Hall County jail Monday on an unrelated charge.

Wendell R. Spell, 50, surrendered at the jail on a felony charge of deposit account fraud, Col. Jeff Strickland said Tuesday.

Accompanied by an attorney, Spell turned himself in about 10 a.m. Monday and was released from jail on a $5,000 bond at about 3 p.m, Strickland said.

Sheriff’s authorities had been looking for Spell since the operators of Lanier Flight Center took out a warrant against him on Dec. 31 for allegedly writing a bad check for $2,100.

But it is Spell’s operation of a suspected Ponzi scheme that has gained him notoriety in Hall County.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office are handling the case against Spell, who is believed to have taken tens of millions of dollars from people who invested in his heavy equipment business, North Georgia Equipment Sales. Federal officials won’t comment on the status of the investigation. No indictments or arrest warrants have been issued in the case.

In October, several of Spell’s former business associates told Hall County sheriff’s authorities that Spell’s business on Aviation Boulevard had shut down while they were owed money. Two former investors later filed lawsuits claiming they lost $3.2 million and $500,000, respectively. Those with knowledge of the investment scheme believe Spell may have defrauded 30 or more investors for $20 million to $30 million.

Spell is suspected of using the investment money of one group of investors to pay returns to others, the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.

Spell gave authorities the address of a post office box in Clermont when he was released from jail Monday. It could not immediately be determined who is representing him in the bad check case.



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