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Convictions of CEO's wife, son may end LeNature's Ponzi case

After four weeks of testimony, the jury in the money laundering trial of the wife and son of the former CEO of LeNature's Inc. found the defendants guilty on Nov. 29. Though the jury found the wife, 50, not guilty of two charges, they convicted her of three counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy. Her son was convicted of four counts of money laundering and a count of conspiracy.

The convictions grew out of what prosecutors described as a family plot to defraud investors in LeNature's, a western Pennsylvania bottling company. In June, the former CEO of the company pleaded guilty to several forms of fraud. Prosecutors said he used some money given to him by investors to pay back previous investors and kept the rest for himself

The scheme apparently involved buying precious stones, auctioning them off and moving the money through several accounts. At the trial of the wife and son, prosecutors accused the pair of helping the husband launder the investment money this way. In their defense, the defendants told the jury that they did take part in selling diamonds and sapphires, but said they did not realize where the money for the jewels had come from.

In the end, each defendant was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy. The judge presiding over the trial scheduled sentencing for April 26 and ordered the defendants to be under house arrest until then. The former LeNature's CEO is already serving a 20-year sentence.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Wife, son convicted in LeNature's fraud case," Brian Bowling, Nov. 30, 2011

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