The former owner of Playgirl magazine has pleaded guilty to a $250 million fraud scheme in which he used investor money to finance his lavish lifestyle in Florida.
Carl R. Ruderman, 82, admitted Thursday in Miami to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and agreed to the maximum sentence of five years, as well as forfeiture of more than $250 million.
Prosecutors say he was part of a scam that affected more than 3,400 investors in 42 states and admitted to using the money to pay for his credit card, mortgage, vacations and other expenses, such as his Mercedes-Benz payments and babysitter for his children.
Ruderman’s family business was once called the “invisible man” of the porn industry by Screw publisher Al Goldstein and owned Playgirl magazine, which closed in 2015.
He was chairman and CEO of 1 Global Capital LLC, a commercial lender that filed for bankruptcy in July 2018 and made “funded” loans to small businesses at high interest rates.
Carl R. Ruderman, 82, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit securities fraud
One that Screw publisher Al Goldstein calls the “invisible man” of the porn industry, Ruderman’s family business formerly owned Playgirl
Authorities say Ruderman lied to investors in marketing materials and periodic account statements, claiming they could expect double-digit returns on their investments.
Four of Ruderman’s co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty for their roles in this fraud, including two attorneys who provided him with false legal cover to evade federal securities laws.
Ruderman also admitted to spending global investors’ money on housekeepers, college tuition, drivers, insurance payments for his art collection and jewelry, the Justice Department said in a news release Friday.
He also admitted to funneling investors’ money to companies that benefited him and his family without the investors’ knowledge, the department said.
The company – based in Hallandale Beach, Florida – made loans to small businesses called Merchant Cash Advance Loans. Prosecutors compared these to payday loans.
The Justice Department said Ruderman admitted that he and others made false statements to investors and potential investors about 1 Global’s profitability.
Investors were falsely told that the company had been audited by a public accounting firm, that investors’ money would be spent on cash advance loans from the traders, and that people could expect big returns.
Playgirl closed in 2015 and reopened two years later under different owners
The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a 2018 complaint against Ruderman and 1 Global that from February 2014 to July 2018, the company raised money from investors, many of whom used retirement savings.
The SEC said 1 Global was founded in 2013 and owned by the Ruderman Family Trust, which also owned other companies including Digi South, former owner of Playgirl and other adult magazines.
Digi South used the same address as 1 Global and “received approximately $805,000 in investor funds from 1 Global without consideration or legitimate services,” the SEC said.
Four of Ruderman’s co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the 1 Global fraud, the Justice Department said.
Alan G. Heide, 65, of Lake Worth, Florida, the former 1 Global Chief Financial Officer, pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $57 million in restitution.
Andrew Dale Ledbetter, 81, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, pleaded guilty in 2021 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and securities fraud. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $148 million in restitution.
Steven Allen Schwartz, 78, of Delray Beach, Florida, a director and consultant at 1 Global, pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and securities fraud. He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay more than $36 million in restitution.
Jan Douglas Atlas, 78, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, an attorney, pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and securities fraud. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to repay more than $29 million.