EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — An East Greenwich woman faces a felony wire fraud charge after she allegedly obtained more than $10 million from investors under fraudulent pretenses.
According to a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court Thursday, Monique Brady raised large sums of money from investors for projects set to be performed by her real estate business, MNB LLC. Federal investigators say some of her investors were close friends and family members; a total of 32 people invested more than $10 million with Brady, according to the FBI.
A judge ordered Brady held without bail on Thursday after prosecutors said they believe she was trying to escape to Vietnam to avoid charges.
In an affidavit, FBI agent Pepper Daigler said Brady raised the money by “misrepresenting to investors that she needs to pay subcontractors tens of thousands of dollars,” offering to split the profit with those who gave her money. Daigler said most of Brady’s projects cost between $25 and a few hundred dollars.
Investigators say Brady defrauded investors by collecting multiple investments for the same project, misrepresenting the cost of projects, or by soliciting money for projects she never did.
In total, investigators say 23 people lost roughly $4.5 million to Brady by the time the alleged scheme was brought to an end in 2018.
Prosecutors said Brady spent $3 million dollars of the fraudulent proceeds at casinos. Her attorney Richard Ratcliffe said his client was being treated for a gambling addiction.
In court Friday, prosecutors laid out a salacious twist in the case that developed within the last 24 hours. Investigators discovered Brady was in a relationship with a bankruptcy attorney (Brady filed for divorce from her husband on Tuesday, according to Family Court records).
FBI agents discovered the bankruptcy attorney had purchased an airline ticket from Hong Kong to Rhode Island. After subpoenaing airline records, investigators discovered Brady had purchased two tickets to Vietnam with cash.
The bankruptcy attorney was evasive with agents at first, but later admitted he did not know when Brady planned on returning. He told investigators the purpose of the trip was so Brady could visit a sick grandmother in Vietnam.
Initially the pair was scheduled to leave next Tuesday, but prosecutors said after agents interviewed the bankruptcy attorney, she changed the flight to Friday at 11:05 p.m.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Hebert asked the judge to order Brady detained because she is a flight risk, adding the government planned on charging her with aggravated identity theft.
Hebert said Brady, who was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, is “looking at substantial prison time.”
Ratcliffe objected to the government’s portrayal of his client and prosecutor’s request for detention, arguing “even Bernie Madoff did not initially receive pretrial detention.”
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln Almond sided with prosecutors and ordered Brady held in federal custody until a bail hearing next week.
Investors included Brady’s close friends, her step-brother and the former nanny for her children, according to the FBI. Daigler said an elderly woman lost nearly all of her money to Brady, and an elderly man with Alzheimer’s lost all of his life savings in the alleged scheme.
In the affidavit, Daigler said some investors were repaid,= but alleges Brady gave those investors money she received from others.
Brady put her East Greenwich home on the market and filed for bankruptcy last summer. At the time she also faced numerous civil suits from plaintiffs who said she owed them more than $1 million combined. Several of those lawsuits claimed the plaintiffs were approached by IRS agents, who told them that Brady was under criminal investigation.
Brady turned herself into the FBI Thursday and spent the night at the Wyatt Detention Center. She is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on Friday afternoon.
Steph Machado contributed to this report