REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re  the Receiver’s Motion for Miscellaneous Relief, specifically an order (1)approving a first interim distribution of $10 million.
Motion to Approve First Interim Distribution, Resolution of Objections, and Additional Claim Determinations with Exhibits 1-7
Michael DaCorta, the architect and chief executive of the $80 million Oasis Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison on Thursday, October 20, 2022. DaCorta also was ordered to pay $53,270,336.08 in restitution. The judge and federal prosecutors confirmed Thursday that any assets collected will be distributed to investor-victims through the Receiver’s ongoing claims process.
A jury convicted DaCorta in May of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, money laundering, and filing a false income tax return. Testimony at the trial established that DaCorta and others had persuaded victims to invest by promising 12% interest with no risk to principal. DaCorta claimed he had perfected “market making” technique in foreign currency exchange trading that would ensure profits for investors. In reality, DaCorta’s trades lost money. DaCorta and other insiders diverted millions for luxury homes, cars, and vacations for themselves.
U.S. District Judge William F. Jung gave DaCorta the statutory maximum sentences on the conspiracy and money laundering counts – 20 years and 10 years, respectively – and ordered that the sentences run concurrently. DaCorta also received a three-year sentence on the income tax count, to be served after the 20-year sentence. Subsequent to his 23-year sentence, DaCorta will be subject to three years of supervised release.
Judge Jung described the Oasis Ponzi scheme as “a very good con.” The victims lost their money and tended to blame themselves for getting involved, too. “Their self-esteem was stolen,” the judge said. Before imposing the sentence, the judge heard from two of the victims, a couple whose initials are P.K. and K.K. She stated that her family was “emotionally drained” by the loss of money meant for their children’s marriages and educations. He called DaCorta “a parasite on society.”
The judge also heard from the court-appointed Receiver, Burton W. Wiand, who described Oasis as “one of the most insidious schemes I’ve ever encountered.” Wiand stated that he had approved a total of $58 million in victim claims and would begin distributing funds shortly. The Receiver noted that approximately $20 million dollars has to date been recovered. Wiand stated that before Oasis, DaCorta had perpetrated two other investment frauds, International Currency Traders (ICT) and Strata Group. In light of DaCorta’s past conduct, Wiand told the judge, “leniency is not appropriate.”
DaCorta’s criminal conspirator, attorney Joseph S. Anile, II, pleaded guilty in 2020 and testified against DaCorta at trial. Anile currently is serving a 10-year sentence. He has a pending request for a sentence reduction in light of his cooperation with the government and the Receiver and his testimony against DaCorta.
DaCorta’s attorney announced his intention to appeal the conviction. The judge denied DaCorta’s request to remain free pending appeal. DaCorta was taken into custody in the courtroom at the conclusion of the sentencing. DaCorta currently is 57 years old and will be 80 years old at the conclusion of his incarceration. DaCorta’s lawyer requested that the sentence be served at a lower-security prison in Florida or Alabama.
Tampa, Florida –United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that following a 13-day trial, a federal jury has found Michael J. DaCorta (57, Sarasota) guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, money laundering, and filing a false income tax return. DaCorta faces a combined maximum penalty of 33 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. DaCorta had been charged in a superseding indictment in February 2021.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, from November 2011 through April 18, 2019, DaCorta ran an investment company named Oasis International Group, Ltd. (“OASIS”). DaCorta and his co-conspirators persuaded at least 700 victims to invest in OASIS through promissory notes and other means, causing victims’ losses exceeding $80 million. DaCorta, who had effectively been banned from conducting foreign exchange trading (“FOREX”) by agreement with the National Futures Association, induced victims to invest in OASIS by falsely representing to victim-investors that OASIS was reaping enormous profits by being a “market maker” and collecting “spread” on voluminous FOREX trades. DaCorta also pitched the opportunity as essentially risk free and OASIS as well-collateralized. In reality, OASIS was not making markets and had no true revenue. The “spread” earnings were being paid on each trade by OASIS back to OASIS to create the illusion of revenue, which was published to investors on fictious account statements and an online investor portal. The online investor portal showed the “spread” credits but concealed catastrophic underlying trading losses.
DaCorta and his conspirators used the balance of the victim-investors’ funds to make Ponzi-style payments to perpetuate the scheme and to fund lavish lifestyles. For example, DaCorta used victim-investors’ funds to purchase a Maserati and Range Rovers for his family members, a country club membership, multiple million-dollar homes in Florida, college tuition for family members, flights on private jets, and lavish trips to Europe and the Cayman Islands. DaCorta also underreported his income on his 2017 federal income tax return, claiming a negative income and receiving a tax refund.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Futures Association, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke, Frank Murray, and David W.A. Chee.
Earlier today, May 4, 2022, a jury empaneled by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida found Michael DaCorta guilty of all charges against him in connection with his operation of Oasis International Group, Ltd. and related entities as a massive fraud. On December 17, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted DaCorta on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and one count of engaging in an illegal monetary transaction. On February 18, 2021, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment, which added a third count for making a false and fraudulent statement on an income tax return.
DaCorta’s criminal trial began on April 18, 2022. After more than two weeks of testimony and argument, the jury began its deliberations this morning but required less than four hours to find DaCorta guilty on all counts. While DaCorta was not immediately taken into custody, he faces a lengthy imprisonment. His sentencing will occur through a separate proceeding, and the Receiver will make interested parties aware of that proceeding through future communications. Please monitor this site – www.oasisreceivership.com.
Certain individuals associated with DaCorta have repeatedly attempted to frustrate the Receiver’s activities by insisting that DaCorta was innocent of any wrongdoing and ghostwriting briefs on his behalf, despite a guilty plea to similar charges years earlier by Oasis co-owner and DaCorta co-conspirator Joseph Anile, III. The individuals made these assertions both informally in communications with other investors and formally in communications with the court presiding over the CFTC enforcement action underlying the Receivership. The jury’s speedy and unanimous verdict on all counts should put an end to any doubt about DaCorta’s culpability.
John Paniagua, Kevin Johnson, and Jason McKee testified on DaCorta’s behalf. In an abundance of fairness, the Receiver will not attempt to characterize their testimony, but he hopes to make transcripts available to all interested parties. Please monitor the Receivership website. Nevertheless, the Receiver believes claimants and others should be aware of these individuals’ activities. For example, the Receiver is in possession of documents indicating that Jason McKee is associated with “The Oasis Helper Group.” From the Receiver’s perspective, that group has not fulfilled the promise of its name.
In light of the jury’s verdict, the Receiver is moving quickly to begin distributions to claimants with approved claims and to combat further misinformation from DaCorta and others who have attempted to impede the administration of the Receivership.
Counsel for United States of America has requested the Court to set the trial in this cause to commence on April 18, 2022. See attached.