Before Bernard Madoff, there was Terry Dowdell.
Dowdell began operating his Ponzi scheme in 1998, through his Vavasseur Corporation. The feds began investigating in 2001, Vavasseur went into receivership and Dowdell’s asserts were frozen. He pleaded guilty to securities and wire fraud.
Defrauded investors’ claims and criminal charges have been on the docket in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville for years. On Jan. 5, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed additional fraud convictions against Dowdell’s wife, Mary Ellen, and the Smyth brothers, Mark and Gregory, who were charged with transferring assets subject to the court’s freeze order.
In an unpublished opinion, the appellate panel upheld Mary’s 60-month prison sentence, enhanced because of her perjury and the size of the loss exceeding $400,000. The court also affirmed lesser sentences for each of the brothers.
By Deborah Elkins