- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Fredericksburg man was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison for misappropriating millions of dollars from people who thought they were investing in an office park.

Instead of putting money into the project and giving investors their promised 10 percent to 25 percent return, James Ashby Moncure lost most of it on bad stock trades. He used some new investors’ money to pay previous investors in a Ponzi-like scheme that ended when he confessed his wrongdoing in an email to his victims in March 2014.

Moncure, 42, was part owner of a company that partnered with the Silver Cos. to develop the Quantico Corporate Center adjacent to the Marine Corps base in Stafford County. According to federal prosecutors, Moncure took $12 million from about three dozen investors and paid back about $4 million - a net loss of just more than $8 million.

Along with sentencing Moncure to 65 months in prison for wire fraud and illegal monetary transactions, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered him to make full restitution.

In a rambling 20 minute statement to the court, Moncure spoke about self-loathing, narcissism, learning to accept responsibility and seeing anorexic teenage girls die during his hospitalization for psychiatric treatment. With the judge’s permission, he turned and spoke directly to victims in the courtroom, apologizing but still selling - this time, the hope that they will be repaid when his properties are sold in bankruptcy proceedings.

“Everybody, you have my apologies,” Moncure said. “The assets are real.”

He enumerated some recent big property sales and urged the victims to work with the bankruptcy trustee before Hudson cut him off.

“You can talk to these folks all day long. They want their money back. You got that?” Hudson said.

Michael Ognek, a Marine veteran, said he and his brother invested $250,000 with Moncure and never got a penny back. Another victim, Randy Powers, said he lost $300,000.

“It took me 22 years to earn that money,” said Powers, who helped bring in other investors for Moncure.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill said another victim was a breast cancer patient who said she needed her savings for medical treatment but reluctantly invested - and lost - $250,000. That woman, an old college friend of Moncure’s, did not testify.

Prosecutors urged Hudson to impose a stiff sentence.

“The investment scheme before this court is staggering,” Gill said. “He had an addiction, and he was feeding it with other people’s money.”

In his statement in court, Moncure also alluded to his stock trading as an addiction and compared his confessional email to an alcoholic smashing a bottle of whiskey against a wall.

Defense attorney Nia Vidal said Moncure “was pouring his heart out and saying how sorry he was” in the email. She urged Hudson to consider a sentence of two years of home confinement.

But the judge said the “monumental” breach of trust warranted prison time.

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