A federal grand jury this week indicted a 61-year-old Scottsdale woman on charges that she bilked investors of millions, spending $4.8 million on a Paradise Valley home, homes for two daughters and pieces of art, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Sherry Stewart, who also went by Sharen Stewart, was indicted Tuesday on 44 counts that she operated fraudulent high-yield investment schemes from 2000 to 2002.
Stewart managed her business, Prime Resources Consulting L.L.C., in Scottsdale and later from a home at 8110 Mohave Road in Paradise Valley.
Her schemes offered investors high returns with little risk. The indictment says she collected $13 million from investors, $4.8 million of which was converted to her personal use.
To lure investors, Stewart falsely advertised that her program was sponsored by the Federal Reserve, that compliance officers reviewed each transaction and that the money would be placed with a security firm licensed with the Security Exchange Commission, said Harriet Bernick with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Stewart also said she held two doctorates, taught graduate level math and computer science at Wright State University and Southern California University, and that she was a consultant to NASA, Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Edwards Air Force Base — all false, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
"The SCC and the Federal Reserve issued warnings about this very type of highyield investment fraud," said Paul Charlton, U.S. district attorney for Arizona, in a prepared statement. "We will continue to prosecute these cases, but investors need to be cautious and exercise their own good judgment."
Stewart spent $3.8 million of investors’ money on her Paradise Valley home and more than $455,000 on artwork from several Scottsdale galleries, prosecutors said.
Charges against her include mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a maximum 20 years, a fine of $250,000, or both, Bernick said.
Stewart had not been arrested and no date was set for her arraignment as of Wednesday, Bernick said.