Attorney General James announces convictions and forfeiture of assets in upstate securities fraud scheme
David and Ramona Wright plead guilty to fraudulently soliciting investments to fund Rolex watches, vacations, luxury cars and yacht
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the convictions of David and Ramona Wright, formerly of Sherrill, for third-degree grand larceny and felony securities fraud under the Martin Act for operating a $760,000 securities fraud scheme through Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc.
“The Wrights’ actions could only be described as wrong,” said James. “I’m proud to announce that Wrights will no longer be able to defraud investors out of their hard-earned money and will have to spend their time in prison thinking about how they could have acted right. My office is committed to ensuring investors are protected from financial predators that seek to defraud and abuse New Yorkers.”
David Wright, 53, president of Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., and Ramona Wright, 54, secretary/treasurer of Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., pleaded guilty before Hon. Robert L. Bauer in Oneida County Court last week, resolving two indictments filed in Oneida County earlier this year. The defendants’ pleas are the result of a joint criminal and civil enforcement action brought by both the New York Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and Investor Protection Bureau.
According to the Attorney General’s indictments and court filings, in June 2009, the Wrights, who were heavily indebted and facing potential foreclosure on their home, created Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., which they headquartered at their home. The Wrights claimed the corporation would develop, market and sell a specific rehabilitative hospital bed, to which they had obtained patent rights.
Between 2009 and 2015, the Wrights solicited and obtained $760,000 in investments from more than two dozen individuals in Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., telling investors they needed the money for research and development of the hospital bed patent and promising lucrative and swift returns on investment.
In reality, however, the Wrights used investor monies, almost exclusively, to fund their own lavish lifestyle, including the purchase of a 53-foot Hatteras yacht they named the “Mad Hatteras,” two Lincoln Navigators, two BMWs, Rolex watches, and a time-share in Orlando, Fla., as well as to pay for their daughter’s wedding at a yacht club in Florida. The Wrights also made unauthorized cash withdrawals and transfers to their other business — CNY Telecom, LLC — and used investor monies to pay for daily trips to fast-food restaurants.
The Wrights’ victims included close friends and long-time acquaintances, many from whom the Wrights solicited multiple investments and nearly all of whom are Upstate New York residents. In 2014, the Wrights sold their home in Sherrill and began living full-time on their yacht in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The investigation by the Office of the New York State Attorney General was initiated by a 2017 shareholder complaint to the Investor Protection Bureau. In March 2019, the Wrights were arrested on their yacht in Myrtle Beach, and they were subsequently arraigned in Oneida County Court in April 2019.
In June 2019, James initiated a civil asset forfeiture proceeding against the Wrights, as well as their businesses CNY Telecom, LLC, and Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., before the Honorable Bernadette T. Clark in Oneida County Supreme Court. Pursuant to that forfeiture action, the New York Attorney General’s Office obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Wrights and their businesses from selling or dissipating assets, including their yacht.
On Sept. 6, 2019, David Wright pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony; and one count of felony securities fraud under the Martin Act, a class E felony.
Ramona Wright pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony, and one count of felony securities fraud under the Martin Act — a class E felony.
The Wrights agreed to stipulate to the forfeiture of their yacht, as well as $68,000 in funds frozen in their bank account, all of which will be used toward victim restitution. The Wrights also promised to make substantial additional restitution at the time of sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 6, 2019. At the time of sentencing, David Wright faces up to 3 to 9 years in state prison, and Ramona Wright faces up to 1 to 3 years in state prison.
The New York State Attorney General’s Office wishes to thank the state police Financial Crimes Unit and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in investigating the Wrights’ crimes, as well as the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina for their assistance in locating and arresting the defendants.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Counsel Benjamin S. Clark and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Tarkowski of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Support Analyst Joseph Conniff. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Jose Maldonado.
The investigation was conducted by Inv. Joel Cordone, under the supervision of Supervising Inv. Richard Doyle and Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes. Audit work was performed by Principal Forensic Auditors Meaghan Scotellaro and Marcos Perez. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Deputy Chief Sandy Bizzarro.
The civil asset forfeiture proceeding is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Haim of the Attorney General’s Investor Protection Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Assistants Natalya Fadeyeva and Renata Bodner, under the supervision of John Genovese, assistant deputy attorney general of the Organized Crime Task Force. Nicole Keary is the deputy attorney general in charge of the Organized Crime Task Force. The Investor Protection Bureau is led by Acting Bureau Chief Kevin Wallace and is a bureau of the Division of Economic Justice, led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher D’Angelo.