Couple in Illinois Ponzi scheme caught in AZ - CBS 5 - KPHO


Couple in Illinois Ponzi scheme caught in AZ

Posted: Updated: May 6, 2012 10:47 PM MST
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An Illinois couple who fled a conviction for running a Ponzi scheme has been captured in a small town west of Phoenix after a dozen years on the run, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

"They seemed like pretty decent folk in the community and stuff like that," said neighbor Brian Villalobos.

The arrests of 65-year-old Nelson Grant Hallahan and his 54-year-old wife, Janet Hallahan, on Saturday came after they were featured on America's Most Wanted the previous night. A tip led deputy U.S. marshals to the couple in the community of Tonopah.

"Obviously the public giving us tips is very, very important, and all it takes is one person to bring this all to fruition, and in this case it was one tipster who knew who they were," said David Gonzales, United States marshal for Arizona.    

Nelson Hallahan is a former insurance and securities salesperson.

The Hallahans lived in Peoria and targeted family, friends and elderly victims by promising significant returns on investments. They used the millions they netted to live a lavish lifestyle.

The Hallahans further defrauded investors by selling interest in a tanning salon, deputy U.S. marshals said. The tanning business was subsequently sold without telling investors, investigators said. During this time, the Hallahans maintained a lavish lifestyle to include owning yachts, luxury vehicles, designer clothes and jewelry, the U.S. Marshals Service said. 

The Hallahans pleaded guilty to these charges in an Illinois Federal Court, but failed to appear for sentencing, owing investors nearly $1.2 million. The decade-long run from the law began in January 2000, when arrests warrants were issued for the Hallahans. Over the past 12 years, the Hallahans reportedly have been in several states in the southwestern United States using numerous aliases to avoid apprehension.

The Hallahans were taken into custody without incident. It is believed that they have been hiding in Arizona for the past couple of years.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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