Parolee ordered to start repaying $3.5 million

Judge tells man, 67, to pay $100 a month in restitution

April 04, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A paroled investment counselor who admitted swindling clients out of several million dollars was ordered yesterday to start paying $100 a month in restitution, with the understanding that the 67-year-old probably never will make good on the more than $3.5 million he owes.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth placed Joshua Fry, who lives in Washington, under house arrest for 30 days and suspended another 23 months, noting that the two years was the suspended part of Fry's original 10-year sentence.

Parole and probation officials and the attorney general's office sought to have Fry imprisoned, noting that he made no effort at restitution since he was paroled in 1999 on theft and securities convictions totaling $4.7 million.

Fry maintained he is impoverished, living on food stamps and Social Security, in ill health with heart problems and, because he is prominently featured on the attorney general's Internet site about investment schemes, is unemployable. He told Silkworth that he was embarrassed and had no excuse for not writing a single check toward restitution: "I have only an apology."

Silkworth also told Fry not to invest in futures markets - for himself or others.

The sentence was for violating probation by not paying restitution. Last month, the judge rejected allegations that Fry improperly offered investment advice and defrauded new investors with a fund that failed in 2001.

"It is a bill-collection issue at this point," said Carolyn H. Henneman, chief of the criminal investigation division of the Maryland attorney general's office.

Some of the 131 victims invested six-figure sums a decade ago with Fry, only to see the money vanish. Officials said many were elderly when they invested.

Fry's 1995 convictions stem from the early 1990s, when he had a WPGC-AM radio program, "Exercise Your Options," on which he promoted GTC, an investment fund. Henneman said it stood for "Good Till Canceled."

He repaid early investors. Later investments funded trips to casinos, racehorses and other spending. He vanished from Annapolis and in 1994 was found living under an assumed identity in Cincinnati.

Fry served 4 1/2 years in prison, where he began writing an investment newsletter, Wasting Assets.

Silkworth allowed Fry to continue his newsletter, with proceeds going to an account for his victims.

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