Troy Wragg’s final words to his wife before exiting the courtroom were, “I’m sorry.”
Wragg, a 2005 business management alumnus, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in running a green-energy Ponzi scheme at the James A. Byrne U.S. Federal Courthouse in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Wragg, 37, together with Amanda Knorr, 35, a 2006 biological anthropology alumna, and co-conspirator Wayde McKelvey defrauded investors of $54 million in four years in 12 illegal securities offerings for their fake green-energy company Mantria Corporation, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, according to a federal court filing in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Wragg, Knorr and McKelvey falsely claimed to investors they were earning profits of up to 484 percent. They often targeted retirement-age investors, wiping clean their retirement funds, destroying their lines of credit and leaving loan repayment to investors once Mantria crashed and burned, prosecutors said.
In a Ponzi scheme, the “promoter” will make a series of promises about returns and use later investments in the company to pay back the original investors, said Rafael Porrata-Doria Jr., who teaches securities regulation at the Beasley School of Law.
“There’s a point where there isn’t enough money coming into the scheme for the promoter to be able to pay all the investors,” Porrata-Doria said.
The trio was indicted for their role in the wire and securities fraud in 2015. McKelvey was convicted for wire and securities fraud in October.
As many as nearly 500 investors were victims of the fraudulent company, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Livermore.
“This was an extraordinary scheme carried out by someone who was an excellent fraudster,” said Joel Slomsky, senior U.S. District judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, during the sentencing.
Knorr pled guilty in May 2016 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison in April.
Wragg pled guilty in March 2017 and was also sentenced for a second fraud scheme involving a fake dating app named LUVR, which increased his prison time.
Joseph Mancano, Wragg’s attorney, urged the prosecution during the sentencing to remember that Wragg had a difficult upbringing and suffered from mental health issues including depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse.
“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve done,” Marcano said. “Even though an individual has done bad things, like in Wragg’s case, he shouldn’t be defined by that one criminal act. He’s capable of redemption.”
“For everything that I’ve done and all the pain that I have caused, I want to say that I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” Wragg said during the sentencing.