Executive with Playgirl magazine ties pleads guilty to $250M lending company fraud

A prominent Florida executive, whose family business was once the owner of Playgirl magazine, has recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. This individual, Carl R. Ruderman, 82 years old, served as the chairman and chief executive officer of 1 Global Capital LLC, a commercial lending company that filed for bankruptcy in July 2018. Federal authorities have revealed that Ruderman was involved in a fraudulent scheme amounting to $250 million, which impacted more than 3,400 investors across 42 states.

The guilty plea was entered by Ruderman in federal court in Miami on Thursday. According to court records, the sentencing is scheduled for January 3, and he could face up to five years in prison. Additionally, Ruderman may be required to forfeit more than $250 million. The Justice Department disclosed in a news release on Friday that Ruderman has admitted to misusing the funds of 1 Global investors for personal expenses, such as credit card payments, vacation travel, drivers, nannies, housekeepers, tuition, mortgage payments, luxury car payments, and insurance payments for his art collection and jewelry.

Furthermore, Ruderman confessed to diverting investors’ money to businesses that personally benefited him and his family, without the knowledge of the investors. 1 Global Capital primarily focused on providing merchant cash advance loans to small businesses. These loans, often compared to payday loans, were a central part of the fraudulent activities. Prosecutors have accused Ruderman and others of making false representations to both investors and potential investors regarding the profitability of 1 Global. Investors were deceived with claims that the company had undergone an audit by a public accounting firm, that their money would be utilized for merchant cash advance loans, and that they could expect substantial returns on their investments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint against Ruderman and 1 Global in 2018, stating that the company collected funds from investors, many of whom relied on their retirement savings, between February 2014 and July 2018. The SEC further revealed that 1 Global was established in 2013 and was owned by the Ruderman Family Trust. The trust also owned other businesses, including Digi South, which was previously the owner of Playgirl and other adult magazines. Notably, Digi South received approximately $805,000 in investor funds from 1 Global without providing any legitimate services in return, according to the SEC.

In addition to Ruderman, four other individuals involved in the 1 Global fraud have previously pleaded guilty. Alan G. Heide, the former chief financial officer of 1 Global, was sentenced in 2019 to five years in prison and ordered to pay over $57 million in restitution. Andrew Dale Ledbetter, a lawyer, was sentenced in 2021 to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $148 million in restitution. Steven Allen Schwartz, a director and consultant at 1 Global, received a two-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay over $36 million in restitution. Jan Douglas Atlas, another lawyer, was sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay more than $29 million in restitution in 2019.

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