PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Barrington man is accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $11 million.
The 37-page civil lawsuit from the SEC accuses Patrick Churchville of inappropriately using $2.5 million of his clients’ money to buy a waterfront home in Barrington overlooking Narragansett Bay.
“Beginning in December 2010, private fund manager Patrick Churchville, through his firm ClearPath Wealth Management, misappropriated and misused his investors’ cash and assets through a years-long fraudulent scheme involving theft, covered up by false accounting entries, shadow accounts, and misrepresentations,” the SEC filing states.
The filing claims Churchville “caused at least $11 million in losses to the Funds they advised and controlled, misappropriating the funds’ cash in a series of Ponzi-like transactions.”
The lawsuit also claims Churchville used investor money to cover $23 million that was lost in a separate Ponzi scheme.
The SEC filing is a civil complaint and so Churchville has not been charged, but Target 12 has learned federal investigators are examining the case for possible criminal charges.
A spokesperson for the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s office would neither confirm nor deny an active investigation.
No one answered the door Monday at Churchville’s Barrington office, which was monitored by a security camera. A sign outside his home shows his 3,100-square-foot residence is now up for sale.
Real estate records show he purchased the home for $2.4 million in 2011, it is on the market now for $3.5 million.
In a statement Churchville’s attorney’s Michael Lepizzera and Anthony Traini said it was “premature” for the SEC to identify the exact amount of losses.
“The bottom line is that no one can definitively conclude today whether the investors will ultimately suffer any actual losses given the fact that there are a number of investment assets still in existence which have not yet matured or been liquidated as of today,” they said in the statement. “The ultimate goal is to return as much money as possible to the investors and therefore Mr. Churchville remains committed to work with his counsel and the SEC to maximize the return to the investors.”
Filings with the Rhode Island Board of Elections show Churchville donated $1,000 on two occasions to Gov. Gain Raimondo, one time during her run for treasurer and again during her gubernatorial run.
Edward Galvin, the treasurer of Raimondo’s campaign, said in an email if Churchville “is found guilty of any wrongdoing the Governor will donate his contributions to a charity.” Tim White( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI