Ohio man who fled to Peru to avoid charges in $65 million Ponzi scheme pleads not guilty

AKRON, Ohio – One day after being back in the U.S. after more than a decade, an Ohio man pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court to charges filed in 2003 for what authorities say was a $65 million Ponzi scheme.

Eric Bartoli, 61, remained in custody after declining to ask for bond during a federal court hearing in Akron.

FBI agents returned Bartoli to the United States on Wednesday morning from Lima, Peru, where he had been held by Peruvian authorities the last two years.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Cleveland said it’s unclear exactly how long Bartoli had been living in Peru.

Bartoli fled the United States after failing to appear at a court hearing in 1999 related to a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Authorities say Bartoli and three partners created a Doylestown, Ohio-based business called Cyprus Funds that raised $65 million from around 800 investors in the U.S. and Latin America between 1995 and 1999. Investors were paid back about half the amount collected, authorities say.

Bartoli was indicted in 2003 on counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, sale of unregistered securities and attempted tax evasion. The SEC also filed a $49 million judgment against him.

Two of Bartoli’s partners pleaded guilty in 2003 to federal tax and securities charges and received 21-month prison sentences. A third partner died while the case was pending.