SIDNEY – An 85-year-old city woman, who has presumably lost her life saving in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme operation, has filed a civil lawsuit against a Fort Loramie insurance agent alleging he persuaded her to invest the money into illegally sold securities. She is requesting the return of her money, interest, punitive damages, and court costs, in the suit filed in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
On Jan. 26, Wanda Caudill, 509 Charles Ave., filed the suit against Ronald U. Schulze, 64, 150 Grandview Drive, Fort Loramie. In an amended filing, Caudill’s attorneys have added his wife, Victoria Schulze, to the suit claiming the couple are attempting to protect their assets by illegally transferring ownership of their $383,000 home due to pending litigation.
Attorneys Chad Kohler of Columbus and Trent Snavley of Sidney represent Caudill. The pair are claiming Schulze violated federal law by selling securities while an unlicensed agent. The Schulzes’ are represented by Roger Sugarman of Columbus, who claims the allegations are not true.
According to online court records, Caudill is claiming that in March 2017 Schulze persuaded her to place $190,000 into securities referred to as promissory notes. The funds were presumably invested with the Woodbridge Wealth. Caudill’s attorneys claim Schulze is not licensed to sell such securities.
The $190,000 was the retirement savings of Cecil Caudill, after 42 years of service to the Minster Machine Co. Mr. Caudill died on March 17, 2017, after 65 years of marriage to Wanda. Shortly after Mr. Caudill’s death, Schulze allegedly approached Mrs. Caudill regarding the money. The Caudills had been a client of Schulze’s for many years, court records state.
Schulze persuaded Caudill to invest the entire amount into the Woodbridge notes that were supposedly not registered with Ohio Division of Securities.
In December 2017, Caudill received a notice that Woodbridge had filed bankruptcy on Dec. 4 and that her interest payments would stop. Caudill is claiming Schulze assured her she would be getting all her money back.
On Dec. 20, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Woodbridge and the company’s founder, Robert Shapiro, in Florida. Court records indicate Shapiro used money invested in Woodbridge to live a lavish lifestyle and for his own use. The Florida lawsuit indicates Shapiro was responsible for $1.22 billion in investments.
Court records filed by Caudill claim there are 15 other Shelby County area residents that have invested some $2 million combined in Woodbridge accounts sold by Schulze. The names of those residents have not been disclosed.
Caudill’s attorneys claim Shulze knew of the Woodbridge collapse and anticipated investors would be taking legal action seeking the return of their money.
On Jan. 11, Schulze transferred his half ownership of their residential property to his wife, Victoria, making her the sole owner. On March 30, Kohler and Snavley amended the lawsuit adding Mrs. Schulze as a defendant claiming the property transfer was a move to protect their assets from creditors.
On April 9, the Schulze’s transferred their names back into co-ownership, according to record with the Shelby County Auditor’s office. Both transfers were for zero dollars exchanging hands.
On April 16, Sugarman filed a motion to have Mrs. Schulze removed from the action since the house has been returned to joint ownership.
Sugarman claims Ronald Schulze was not aware that Shapiro and the Woodbridge companies were part of a Ponzi scheme. The attorney says Schulze has never met Shapiro and doesn’t know him.
While Schulze reportedly gave up his securities license in 2008, Sugarman contends the Woodbridge products were not securities indicating his client was not selling products illegally.
Sugarman said the other 15 clients noted in papers filed by the plaintiff remains unconfirmed.
When asked if the Schulzes invested their own money, Sugarman told the SDN, “Mr. and Mrs. Schulze like Mrs. Caudill and thousands of other individuals around the country, invested their money in Woodbridge Wealth at the time Mr. Shapiro was CEO.”
He continued, “However, until the Woodbridge bankruptcy is resolved, all these investors, including Mrs. Caudill and Mr. and Mrs. Schulze, will not know how much, if any, money they may lose, and/or what their Woodbridge investment may be worth.”
Ronald Schulze did not return telephone messages left by the SDN seeking comment.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.