SIDNEY — A second civil lawsuit has been filed in Shelby County Common Pleas Court in connection with allegations that a Fort Loramie insurance salesman illegally sold securities to area residents. The sale is tied to a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, a federal court case filed in Florida.
John R. Seger, of Fort Loramie, filed suit on April 17 to reclaim from Ronald U. and Victoria Schulze, of Fort Loramie, the $353,000 he paid to establish a personal revocable trust last year. He is also requesting money, interest, punitive damages and court costs.
The families reside one door down from each other in an upscale subdivision.
Seger is claiming the 64-year-old Schulze illegally sold the securities while unlicensed to do so. Court records indicate Seger transacted $328,000 into an “unregistered, non-exempt securities (denominated as a promissory note and associated loan agreement) on June 9, 2017, with Ronald Schulze. On July 6, 2017, another $25,000 was placed into the account.
Victoria Schulze, Ronald’s wife, signed the documents as a witness to the transaction.
The money was placed with an organization known as Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC. On Dec. 4, 2017, Woodbridge and all their affiliates filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Seger is claiming the Woodbridge securities were not registered with the Ohio Division of Securities and were not exempt from registration under Ohio law. He also claims Schulze made false and misleading statements in connection with the sales.
Attorney Rich Wallace of Sidney, representing Seger, told the Sidney Daily News that his law firm does not discuss pending litigation.
On Dec. 20, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Woodbridge and the company’s founder, Robert Shapiro, in Miami, 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.
In a separate local case filed by Wanda Caudill, of Sidney, on March 30, she claims that in March 2017 Schulze persuaded her to place $190,000 into securities referred to as promissory notes with the Woodbridge Wealth program.
The $190,000 was the retirement savings of Cecil Caudill, after 42 years of service to the Minster Machine Co. Cecil died, March 17, 2017, and Schulze allegedly approached Wanda, 85, regarding the money. The Caudills had been clients of Schulze’s for many years, court records state.
In the Caudill filing, court records claimed there were 15 other Shelby County area residents who have invested some $2 million combined in Woodbridge accounts sold by Schulze. Any others involved in such investments have not been made public.
Victoria Schulze was also added to both lawsuits based on the family’s transferring property into her name to allegedly avoid any claims against losing assets.
On Jan. 11, Schulze transferred his half-ownership of their residential property to Victoria, making her the sole owner. On April 9, the Schulzes transferred their names back into co-ownership, according to records in the Shelby County auditor’s office.
Both transfers indicated zero dollars exchanging hands. The property is assessed at $383,000.
On April 16, Schulze’s attorney, Roger Sugarman, of Columbus, filed a motion to have Victoria removed from the action since the house has been returned to joint ownership.
Previously, Sugarman claimed 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.
Regarding the Caudill case, when asked if the Schulzes invested their own money, Sugarman told the Sidney Daily News, “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. 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.”
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.