According to a biography set to smooth elevator Jazz, Ramon DeSage is a brilliant Las Vegas businessman whose charity work has been “singular in its enormity.” In addition to being humble, “he is a man of sharp intellect and diverse talents [and] possesses an abundantly altruistic nature.” Did we mention he hangs out with Chuck Norris, Shaft, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone? If that doesn’t give a man the stamp of legitimacy, then nothing will.
Yet some people just can’t abide the wild success of others. In an apparent case of sour grapes, federal prosecutors have charged the 63-year-old DeSage with wire fraud in connection with an alleged $190 million Ponzi scheme. Described as “a prodigious gambler”, he is said to have blown investors’ money on his favorite extracurricular activity.
The US Attorney’s Office contends that DeSage ran an enormous scam from 2005 to 2011 under the cover of wholesale distribution and resale to Las Vegas resort-casinos. DeSage convinced several investors, including at least one casino owner, to fund his businesses Cadeau Express, Beryt and Merits Incentives, all of which provided luxury items to major hotels on the strip. He promised clients high returns from the resale of these products, but instead of delivering profits, DeSage allegedly made lulling payments with fictitious interest.
While DeSage handed out the occasional lulling payment, the indictment states that most of the investor cash placed in his care was used to sustain his high-rolling gambler lifestyle. As soon as he was wired money by an investor, DeSage would immediately send it to a major strip casino to satisfy a gambling debt, often to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. A criminal complaint lists such recipients as MGM, Paris Casino and Las Vegas Sands. From 2006 DeSage racked up $20 million in losses while owing investors $75 million.
A dual citizen of Lebanon and the United States, DeSage is believed to have substantial funds stashed abroad, including $10 million in real estate and a 40,000-square-foot palace in Lebanon, where he is known as Sheik Abi-Rached. DeSage’s lawyer said his client will plead not guilty in court when arraigned on February 8th.
- Age: 63
- Company: Cadeau Express, Beryt, Merits Incentives
- Job: Businessman, Philanthropist, Humanitarian
- Alleged Scam: Resale of Luxury Products at Profit
- Rate of Return: Unspecified
- Amount of Fraud: $190 million
- Affinity Fraud: Casino Execs
- Location: Las Vegas, NV
- Indictment: Four Counts of Wire Fraud
- Court: US District Court in Nevada