An investment manager in southeastern Michigan who left many people broke is returning to federal court for his sentence for fraud.
The government says John Bravata cost investors more than $40 million. There were about 500.
At the age of 81, Carmen Cassar came to Federal Court to face the man who swindled her.
"They lie to me they cheat me, they say our money, you're going to be okay," said Cassar who spoke at a sentencing for Bravata. "I live on a fixed income and thank god I have my children and they are helping me."
Cassar she still carries her wedding photo from 1957, it was the same year she and her husband Charlie moved here from Malta.
Charlie worked as a baker and a Ford line worker before passing away 17 years ago.
"They stole all my money that I work so hard for and my husband worked for fifty years for two jobs," said Cassar.
While carrying out the Ponzi scheme Bravata lived high on the hog. Documents show he purchases a $90,000 Ferrari.
Bravata offered Cassar and the others an outrageous 12 percent on their investments.
"I believed him. I was naïve. I'm sorry to say that," said Cassar.
Bravata was arrested in New York while on a flight to Italy.
His crimes each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. But prosecutors are recommending that he serve some sentences one at a time, which could put him away for life. Detroit federal Judge Paul Borman will hold a hearing Monday.
The government says the Brighton man's real estate scheme was "complex ... and devastating" for investors. Some have told prosecutors that they can't pay the mortgage and have lost their life savings.
Rod Meloni column: Ponzi Scheme Madness
The government says Bravata could have thrived in any honest work but chose to pursue riches through financial crimes.
- Learn how to protect yourself. Check out the CFP Board's Consumer Guide To Financial Self Defense.