EASTON, Pa. - A former bank manager accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme faces the music and his alleged victims in court.
And Monday, the people who said they were ripped off by Richard Freer found out their money is probably gone for good.
Freer waived his preliminary hearing, but his victims still had plenty of questions for the assistant district attorney, mainly, where did the money go, and what's next?
Close to 40 victims packed a courtroom at the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton. Inside, Freer, 67, waived his preliminary hearing on charges that he duped over 80 people out of $10 million.
"This gave them all an opportunity to come in," said William Blake, Northampton County assistant district attorney. "Perhaps their first opportunity to see Mr. Freer in court, since the last time that they would have been in touch and he was taking money from them."
Blake stayed for an hour after the hearing to answer questions.
"The biggest question: Where's the money?" added Blake. "That's what everybody wants to know."
"When I saw him today, I just didn't know what to think," said one victim. "He did this. He did this to all these people."
Investigators said the money is gone, mainly used for personal expenses and to keep the Ponzi scheme going.
Court records show Freer ran the scheme over a four-year period. Victims, including family members of Freer, lost thousands that they thought the former bank president was investing.
"I know a lot of them were still hoping that, at some point and time, they were going to hear about buried treasure or an off-shore account," said Blake. "And to finally be confronted with the fact that there's nothing there, you kind of feel that sense of people being deflated."
"I don't have a dime. I really don't," added a victim leaving the courthouse. "I'm going to probably lose my home, and I have to sell my automobile to pay for the repairs. So what does that tell you?"
Many of the victims declined to speak about the case. Many said they have contacted their attorney.
Blake said the investigation continues, and Freer is due back in court in January.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Southeastern PA Matt Rourke/AP