West Virginia business owner sentenced for bilking investors

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — The owner of a now-closed business in northern West Virginia has been sentenced to 10 years and one month in federal prison for bilking investors out of millions of dollars through what prosecutors called a Ponzi scheme.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says in a news release that 65-year-old Donna S. Brown of Clarington, Ohio, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Wheeling for her guilty plea to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Brown owned Budget Finance of New Martinsville, which closed in November 2015.

According to court documents, Brown promised investors annual returns of between 8 and 12 percent. Prosecutors say Brown used money from new investors to pay existing ones.

Morrisey says Brown defrauded investors of more than 800 accounts totaling more than $31 million.