A former GPB Capital Holdings managing director pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in connection with an alleged $1.8 billion Ponzi-like scheme that U.S. prosecutors say defrauded thousands of investors.
Jeffrey Lash admitted at a hearing Tuesday to transferring $1,053,000 to GPB founder and ex-CEO David Gentile in 2016 to help dupe potential investors into thinking the money was portfolio revenue.
GPB holdings was the primary owner of Prime Automotive Group until 2021.
Lash, 54, of Naples, Fla., was charged in 2021 along with Gentile and another executive who the U.S. said used the funds to cover shortfalls and enrich themselves instead of securing returns for their customers.
Some 17,000 investors were affected, about 4,000 of them seniors, according to a related complaint by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If the allegations bear out, it would be one of the largest such schemes to target individual investors since the massive frauds of Bernard Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford came to light.
GPB sold Prime Automotive Group to Group 1 Automotive Inc. in the wake of these allegations and the filing of numerous lawsuits against the firm, the former CEO and two related companies and associates alleging securities fraud. The megadeal at the time was one of the largest dealership transactions in history.