Westlake financial adviser and associates accused of running Ponzi scheme, stealing millions

Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Dozens of families across Northeast Ohio have lost thousands of dollars they saved their whole lives for.

A Westlake financial adviser now faces federal charges and is accused of running a Ponzi scheme.

Raymond Erker, and two of his associates, face federal charges for stealing $9.3 million from 54 people.

Erker owned multiple investment companies, including Sageguard LLC and Gensource.

The federal indictment alleges Ray Erker, Kevin Krantz and Tara Brunst operated a Ponzi scheme with office fronts in Delaware and Nevada.

[View the indictment here]

Federal officials said they ran call centers to hide the fraud they committed from 2013 to 2018.

According to the indictment, they created false brochures, websites and accounts to deceive investors.

Robert and Rosemary Edmonds are just two of several victims.

“We saved this money for my wife and my family. Me as a father, that’s my job to take care of my family. And I guess I let them down,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds is a retired Cleveland police officer. He served the city for 34 years.

“I loved the job, I loved meeting the people,” he said.

19 Investigates spoke with Edmonds and his family a year ago.

They were still reeling from what they lost.

But with a federal investigation underway, we couldn’t share their story until charges were filed.

The Edmonds trusted Erker, a family friend.

“He ruined my life,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds found out he lost $250,000 he invested with Erker one week before he and his wife’s 50th wedding anniversary.

“I don’t need that much. It was for my wife and my kids,” he said.

After the indictment came down, his family told us it’s time for Erker to be held accountable and they’re heartbroken for all of the victims.

19 Investigates found state charges of fraud against Erker were dismissed in 2018, and then a federal investigation began.

That same year, the Ohio Department of Commerce revoked his investment adviser license.

Erker was found guilty that month in another case for charges including burglary and stalking.

Edmonds' daughter Vivian McLaughlin was friends with Erker for more than 30 years.

They went to school together.

We spoke to her back in September 2019.

She said she has never known betrayal like this.

“It’s a very, very empty feeling. And I hope I never feel it again,” she said.

Her dad still has his pension.

But she knows other families may not have anything to fall back on.

“This is millions of dollars that he just took. It was like his own little personal bank account,” McLaughlin said.

19 Investigates spoke with McLaughlin after charges were filed in the case.

She said she was ready for justice.

“I have many mixed emotions right now, one of definite relief that Erker has been indicted after a two year investigation, but also, a feeling of anger that he has been living life free of consequence for years including these last two. It’s time for him to be held accountable,” she said.

Her father doesn’t think he’ll ever get that hard-earned money back.

His family is pulling him through.

“And there’s a lot more things going on in this world than losing money. But it really hurts,” Edmonds said.

We called Erker’s attorneys listed from his 2018 cases and we have not hear back.

We weren’t able to reach Erker.

Erker, Krantz and Brunst face several charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

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