December 8, 2014 / 7:08 PM / 3 years ago

Former U.S. concert promoter extradited from Brazil on Ponzi charges

MIAMI, Dec 8 (Reuters) - A onetime concert organizer who promoted Elton John and Tina Turner shows was extradited from Brazil to south Florida over the weekend to face charges of allegedly running a $300 million Ponzi scheme, an FBI spokesman in Miami said.

John Utsick, a Miami Beach resident and former airline pilot, is due to appear in a Miami federal court Monday afternoon, according to court records. He is charged with nine counts of wire fraud and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.

Utsick bilked 3,300 investors for $300 million between 1998 and 2005 promising annual returns between 15 and 25 percent, according to prosecutors. He hosted investor meetings across the country and used the proceeds to buy two $1 million condominiums, artwork, a yacht, and make alimony payments, prosecutors say. In one instance he raised $16 million to promote a Barbra Streisand concert that never happened.

He “opened an options trading account ... through which he has lost almost $10 million of the more than $17 million of investor proceeds he traded,” according to a 2006 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed against Utsick and others. In 2009 U.S. District Judge Paul Huck ordered him to pay more than $5 million in fines.

In 2006 Billboard Magazine ranked him as the third-largest independent entertainment promoter in the world, according to the SEC complaint.

In 2010 the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami filed its own indictment against Utsick, who fled the country and was declared a fugitive.

The FBI’s Miami spokesman, Michael Leverock, declined to specify how or where Utsick was captured in Brazil. His attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by David Adams and Eric Beech)

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