Two Western Michigan men who pleaded guilty to a multi-million dollar investment scam were sentenced on Friday in Ottawa County Circuit Court. Jeffrey Ripley, 60, and Danny Lee Vanliere, 61, were accused in a Ponzi scheme that convinced over 140 investors that they could get millions of dollars from foreign banks by raising enough money to pay taxes and other charges. Victims lost anywhere between $3,000 and $600,000 each in a scheme that totaled over $9,000,000.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette alleged that the two men “preyed on elderly victims” and convinced them to cash in certificates of deposit and other investments to invest in API Worldwide Holdings. Schuette said Ripley and Vanliere tracked maturation dates of CDs before contacting the owners to persuade them into investments with API once the CDs matured.
Ripley and Vanliere were each sentenced to a range of six to twenty years in prison. Vanliere was ordered to pay $3.1 million in restitution and Ripley was ordered to pay $5.3 million. API Worldwide holdings was ordered to pay $7.6 million in restitution. After factoring in the time already served, the two men will both become eligible for parole after about five years.
In court both men apologized while Jeffrey Ripley took full responsibility for the Ponzi Scheme. Vanliere believes he was conned along with the victims.