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Convicted Ponzi schemers nabbed in Arizona

Mon., May 7, 2012

Illinois couple on the lam for 12 years

TONOPAH, Ariz. – An Illinois couple who spent a dozen years on the run after fleeing a conviction for running a Ponzi scheme has been captured in a small community west of Phoenix, the U.S. Marshals Service said Sunday.

Nelson Grant Hallahan, 65, and his wife, Janet Hallahan, 54, were arrested by deputy marshals Saturday afternoon in Tonopah, an unincorporated desert community 50 miles west of Phoenix.

Matt Hershey, a supervisory deputy U.S. marshal, said the Hallahans were living apart and were arrested at separate rural homes.

The agency said it received a tip about their location after they were featured on “America’s Most Wanted” the previous night.

The couple pleaded guilty in Illinois federal court to bank and mail fraud conspiracy charges and money laundering. They didn’t show up for their sentencing and have been fugitives ever since.

The Hallahans lived in Peoria, Ill., and targeted family, friends and elderly victims by promising significant returns on investments. They also defrauded investors by selling interests in a tanning salon they later sold without telling investors. They were actually running a Ponzi scheme, repaying earlier investors with proceeds from new ones.

The couple used the money they stole to live a lavish lifestyle, buying yachts, luxury vehicles, designer clothes and jewelry, according to the Marshals Service.

The couple owed nearly $1.2 million to investors when they disappeared just days before they were to be sentenced in January 2000.

They were arrested without incident. It’s believed they’ve been in Arizona for about two years.

According to a profile on the AMW website, Nelson Hallahan was a successful life insurance salesman. Janet Hallahan was his assistant and secretary, and the couple married in 1988.


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