David Wright Sentenced to 2-6 Years in State Prison; Ramona Wright Sentenced
to 5 Years Probation for Fraudulently Soliciting Investments to Fund Lavish Lifestyle
Wrights Forfeit $175,000 Yacht Purchased with Investor Money
UTICA – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the sentencing of David and Ramona Wright — both formerly of Sherrill, New York — for their guilty pleas, earlier this year, to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and felony securities fraud under the Martin Act. As part of their convictions, the Wrights forfeited nearly $400,000 in up-front restitution to the victims of their crimes, including a $175,000 yacht purchased with investor money. David Wright was sentenced to two-to-six years in state prison, and Ramona Wright was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to make additional monthly restitution payments to investors.
“The Wrights stole, defrauded, and conned their friends and neighbors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars just to live a lavish style and commit what could be only be described as great wrongs,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Not only are we making things truly right for their victims by commandeering all funds and assets this couple have, but we are securing up-front restitution and monthly payments to get individuals back as much money as possible. Anyone who attempts to prey on innocent New Yorkers is on notice that my office will be unwavering in prosecuting these crimes and holding bad actors accountable.”
The convictions and forfeiture are the culmination of criminal and civil enforcement actions brought by the Office of the Attorney General after it was uncovered that the Wrights operated a six-year securities fraud scam in Upstate New York. In 2009, the Wrights — who were heavily indebted and facing potential foreclosure on their home in Sherrill — created Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., which they headquartered at their home. The couple claimed the corporation would develop, market, and sell a rehabilitative hospital bed patent they had obtained the rights to by trading shares in the corporation to an unsuspecting inventor named Carl Klossner. Between 2009 and 2015, the Wrights solicited and obtained $760,000 in investments from over 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 the investment money almost exclusively to live a lavish lifestyle, well beyond their means, that allowed them to purchase a 53-foot Hatteras yacht they named the “Mad Hatteras,” two Lincoln Navigators, two BMWs, multiple Rolex watches, and a time-share in Florida. Additionally, the Wrights made unauthorized cash withdrawals and transferred funds to their other business CNY Telecom, LLC. The Wrights also used investor money to pay for their daughter’s wedding at a yacht club in Florida, and for daily trips to fast food restaurants.
The Wrights’ victims included close friends and long-time acquaintances, many of whom the Wrights obtained numerous investments from, and nearly all of whom are Upstate New York residents. In 2014, the Wrights sold their home in Sherrill, New York and began living full-time on their yacht in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The investigation by the Office of the Attorney General was initiated after a complaint was made by a shareholder to the office’s Investor Protection Bureau. In April 2019, the Wrights were arrested on their yacht in Myrtle Beach and arraigned on two indictments filed in Oneida County Court. Thereafter, in June 2019, the Office of the Attorney General initiated a civil asset forfeiture proceeding against the Wrights and their businesses, and obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from selling or dissipating assets, including the Mad Hatteras.
On September 10, 2019, David Wright pleaded guilty before the Honorable Robert L. Bauer to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, 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 Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, 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.
Earlier this week, David Wright was sentenced to two-to-six years in state prison, and Ramona Wright was sentenced to five years of probation. Additionally, the Wrights forfeited nearly $400,000 in up-front restitution to the dozens of victims of their crimes, including approximately $175,000 from the sale of the Mad Hatteras. As a condition of her probation, Ramona Wright will be required to make additional monthly restitution payments to victims.
The Office of the Attorney General wishes to thank the New York State Police Financial Crimes Unit for their assistance in investigating the Wrights’ crimes, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina for their assistance in locating and arresting the defendants, and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office for their help in prosecuting the Wrights.
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, and is a bureau of the Division of Criminal Justice overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Jose Maldonado.
The investigation was conducted by Investigator Joel Cordone, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator 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 Investor Protection Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Assistants Natalya Fadeyeva and Renata Bodner — all under the supervision of John Genovese, Assistant Deputy Attorney General on 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 overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher D’Angelo. The Organized Crime Task Force is led by Deputy Attorney General in Charge Nicole Keary, and is a bureau of the Division of Criminal Justice overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Jose Maldonado. Both the Division of Criminal Justice and the Division of Economic Justice are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.