Convictions in $7 Million Ponzi Scheme Reversed by Federal Appeals Court

The convictions of Bryce Sherwood and Michael Heshelman, two men convicted in a $7 million Ponzi scheme in 2009, have been reversed by a federal appeals court after it was determined that the defendants’ “speedy trial” rights were violated when prosecutors took too long to bring the cases to trial.

The two men, along with a third, Dennis Mickelson, were indicted in February of 2006 for allegations of wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering according to a news article at Mlive.com. Following the indictments, it was nearly three years before the cases went to trial. It was requested by the government that the indictments be sealed as the investigation into the scheme continued and the three men could be arrested.

While federal prosecutors were aware of where Mickelson and Sherwood lived, Heshelman apparently resided in Switzerland according to information on his passport application, a fact that federal prosecutors soon discovered according to the appeals court. Ultimately, prosecutors wanted to extradite Heshelman from Switzerland back to the U.S., but were concerned that the Swiss would refuse their request based on the fact that the suspect was wanted on money laundering charges.

The FBI was notified by the Swiss government that they had possible address for Heshelman in 2007, however they would not proceed to extradite him without a provisional arrest warrant. Heshelman was arrested a few months later by the Swiss government for fraud, which the U.S. was notified of. It was February of 2009 before Heshelman was finally extradited from Switzerland after the U.S. government provided an arrest warrant.

While Sherwood claimed that his case was delayed for too long due to authorities not wanting to proceed prior to the arrest of Heshelman, Heshelman argued that his arrest and subsequent trial was intentionally delayed by the U.S. government. In the end, the federal appeals court agreed, finding that the government failed to be reasonably diligent in locating Heshelman, and that there was no evidence indicating that the arrest of Heshelman was made difficult by the Swiss government.

Michigan trial and appellate attorneys know that it is often the case that errors are made in the legal justice system, whether at the state or federal level.


If you have been wrongly convicted or feel that mistakes were made during the process of determining your guilt or innocence, consult with a capable and experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer at once.