Man accused of running Ponzi scheme pleads to 181 theft counts

Richard Freer faces long prison term.

Man accused of running Ponzi scheme pleads to theft charges

EASTON, Pa. - Dozens of victims of an alleged Ponzi scheme packed a courtroom in Northampton County on Wednesday.

It was a day of reckoning for the man who investigators said bilked those victims out of millions of dollars.

Richard Freer pleaded guilty to 181 theft charges and was sentenced to 12 to 30 years in prison. Some said that could be a life sentence for the 68-year-old.

Around 60 people filled the courtroom, waiting to see the man who investigators said stole more than $10 million from 90 victims.

"A lot of peoples' lives are ended with him taking all their money," said victim Linda Smith.

The prosecution said, from 2009 to 2013, Freer, a former Lafayette Bank president, convinced his victims that he could get them higher returns on their retirement accounts.

In his statement to the court, he said, "Their only mistake was to trust me when I was not worthy of their trust."

"There were 275 counts, and the information," said prosecutor William Blake. "You're dealing with over $10 million in restitution."

Freer pleaded guilty to 91 counts of theft by deception and 90 counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.

Some of the victims spoke before he was sentenced.

"Having your brother steal your money is as bad as it gets," said his brother and victim, Lawrence Freer.

Another woman talked about losing everything. 

"Richard has it better than I do. At least he knows where his next meal is coming from," she said.

"I was satisfied." said victim Margaret Terleski. "He admitted his guilt. He admitted he was wrong."

Others wanted more jail time.

"It's not enough. He should die in jail," yelled one man as he left the courthouse.

 The sad part is that all victims who left the courtroom said they are broke.

"We've looked and there's no money," said Blake. "We traced it ourselves. We had some assistance from some federal agencies and the money is gone."

Prosecutors said they are holding $54,000 recovered from Freer's bank accounts, but Freer owes $10.1 million in restitution.

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