La. Financial Planner Charged in Ponzi Scheme

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A financial adviser from suburban New Orleans
who now lives in Birmingham has been charged with embezzling more
than $3 million in what prosecutors describe as a "Ponzi scheme."

Court documents filed Tuesday charge 71-year-old Judith Zabalaoui, of Metairie, with mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors say Zabalaoui was a certified financial planner who promised clients returns of up to 26 percent if they invested in a pair of companies that turned out to be fraudulent. Zabalaoui allegedly opened post office boxes in Colorado and Delaware for the fraudulent companies and set up phone lines for them to take clients' calls.

Prosecutors say she had about 35 victims.

Zabalaoui faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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