Former Ponzi Scheme Lawyer Out Of Jail






A former top Broward lawyer, who was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a $837 million Ponzi scheme, has been released.

Michael McNerney, former co-founder of Brinkley, McNerney, Morgan, Solomon & Tatum in downtown Fort Lauderdale, was released on March 3, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, McNerney mixed with community leaders and his firm was well respected.  He was active in the Broward Bar and the University of Florida’s Broward alumni group, along with a number of charities.  His firm was housed in what was then the Sun-Sentinel Building.

But federal agents found out that McNerney had a hidden, dark side: The lawyer was part of a huge ripoff.

For almost 10 years from about October 1994 through at least May 2004, McNerney was the lead outside counsel for the Mutual Benefits Corporation of Fort Lauderdale.  The firm used new investments to pay old ones – a classic unsustainable Ponzi scheme.

Mutual Benefits sold viatical and life settlement insurance policies, victimizing many with AIDS.

A viatical policy allows a terminally ill person to sell his future life insurance policy benefits for a lump-sum payment. A life settlement policy allows a senior citizen who is not terminally ill to sell the future insurance benefits for immediate cash.

Mutual Benefits sold these policies and then turned around and sold the policies to investors.  The investors were promised huge payouts when the individuals, who were covered by the insurance policies, died.

McNerney was charged with helping make false representations to investors in Mutual Benefits, which included promising a “fixed return” on investments and that the firm has “a strong track record of accurately predicting life expectancies.”

He was also accused of concealing from investors and regulators that Joel Steiger, a convicted felon, was the “key decision maker at MBC,”according to the FBI

“Through these and other misrepresentations, MBC engaged in an unsustainable Ponzi scheme, in which it used new investors’ monies to pay previous investors,” the FBI said.

McNerney pleaded guilty to one-count of Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud conspiracy. As part of the plea agreement, he took responsibility for $837 million in restitutions to the investors who were victims of the fraud.

He’ll have a hard time paying that enormous sum, since McNerney was disbarred shortly after pleading guilty.

It is not known where McNerney went after his released or what he is planning to do.


13 Responses to “Former Ponzi Scheme Lawyer Out Of Jail”

  1. gilligan says:

    Wasn’t Russ Klenet involved in this? Didnt he own a yacht with Steiger?


    I don’t believe he owned a yacht with Steiger. I believe he parked a yacht at Steiger’s home that he co-owned with the late Dr. Mark Ginsburg, who owned a local diagnostic laboratory specializing in the needs of dialysis patients. At the time, there were no allegations against Steiger. All that came later.

  2. Talks like a politician says:

    Stacy Ritter is the center of the deals Klenet makes: URS (airport management), Vista (health insurance), and Mutual Benefits, voting machines, etc. The roots of corruption are deep.
    Just “google”:Stacy Ritter corruption. Unbelievable!


    Let me add that Stacy Ritter or her husband, Russ Klenet, have NEVER been charged with any crime. All these are allegations.

  3. Platypus says:

    Wasn’t Fred Perry from Bank of America being sued civially by investors alleging he recommended they invest in Rothestein’s Ponzi scheme even though he was allegedly suspicious it was a sham? I believe Bill Schere was the plaintiffs attorney. Was he ever charged criminally?

  4. Steven says:

    Every day, no matter how old you get ,you can always find some occurrence that reinforces our common belief that the United States is the greatest country in the world to be a citizen of. One prime example is the determination our Founding Fathers made that a real democracy is best served with the requirement that all persons accused of wrongdoing have to be proven to have committed the act alleged. “Innocence until proven guilty” has always been at the core of our system of justice. This is sometimes all that the accusees have to protect themselves from the mean-spirited, uninformed, hateful, jealous, and self-aggrandizing people out there.
    Back in the late 19th century, a French officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was accused of the crime of treason. In France at that time, it was the responsibility of the accused to prove himself innocence. This was impossible for Dreyfus, since the very men who would know that he was innocent were the ones who were falsely accusing him—to cover up their own crimes. Not being able to prove his innocence, Dreyfus was found guilty and sent to Devil’s Island for years upon years.
    Eventually the case was reopened at the insistence of the public, led by such as the great author and journalist, Emile Zola. Dreyfus was ultimately released, paid off his salary, promoted to major—–and apologized to.
    So, If you’re a public official who has put themselves out for the sake of trying to make their community a better place in which to live, and works this as a second or third job, many times at a loss to them of yearly income, with all of the time they would have to lose with their families—-is
    there not ever going to be a time, after all the acquittals, the dismissals and the years and years that no agencies ever even thinks that there is enough to the accusations to even look at it twice.

  5. Steven says:


    that in a month or two or six a pronouncement is made that you did not do any thing improper, so people should stop saying that you, possibly allowing you to file a defamation suit if they do not.

  6. intheno says:

    Klenet,Ritter uncooked deals like the Panthers ( Mike Moskowitz)

  7. CharlotteGreenbarg says:

    Steven, maybe we ought to ask the Pope to consider them for sainthood?

    Using the Dreyfus case to make your argument for Broward pols is specious to say the least.

    Expecting the Broward SA to deal with all the rampant corruption is like waiting for Godot.

  8. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Miss greenbarg is accurate. There is nothing about financial corruption in the Dreyfuss case, just naked anti-Semitism a great many monarchists n military n even Republican politicians used to make them feel superior to the post Napoleonic Jewish wealthy n prominent families like the beer/meyerbeers, de rothschilds, d’eithals, sterns, von haberd foulds. It was racism not nepotism or political corruption. More people should know history like miss greenbarg

  9. Chaz Stevens, I am Festivus says:

    The SAO might be waiting for Godot, but Dave Schulson of SAO kicked Steve Gonot’s ass.

  10. Steven says:

    Excuse me. The point I was trying to make was that unlike the Civil Law used in most of continental Europe–where the accused has to prove his innocence, the US, instead uses the Common Law system brought over from England–where the accusers have the burden of proof, not the accused. But there is apparently nothing to stop the mean, vicious, know nothing people who constantly attack good public servants, alleging their commission of improper acts without a shred of evidence. Indeed, many of these accusers only get their information from reading the newspapers and the blogs.
    (although I don’t recall Ms Greenbarg ever not doing her homework before she comments online).
    That being said, if an elected official is in fact convicted of criminal conduct I have zero problem with them going to prison–and I probably would have given them longer sentences than they received. But when the idiots keep bringing up, against an elected official, the same old trash for ten or twenty years, for which officials have never been convicted, or never even been charged, it’s time to leave them and their families alone, and let them just do their jobs.
    Did you ever notice that the officials these small-minded people always talk about, like Comm. Stacy Ritter, never wind up being officially accused of anything, while the DOJ and the SAO never mention anyone’s name until they’ve already been indicted!!
    Wait, I guess this means that Stacy and Russ will never get indicted.


    I agree.

  11. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    They are all crooks….a jury just cleared the crook Kraft. In Broward CORRUPTION pays and the SAO and USAO sux. What is really disgusting is that the sheeple keep electing the same thieves over and over again.

  12. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Oh there is more out there. I know the “snitch” that brought down the house(huh Angel). Comm.Trantalis knows all about this….Some where his friends(your slicker than an oil spill there Dino(Keechl was involved to). Also same ammo- Rothstein ‘crew are still being vetted(more arrest coming-just because the jeweler blew his head off, make no mistake more arrest’ are coming-to the feds go after the jewelers wife(she knew).

  13. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Generally agree with #11. Thanks to the appalling incompetence of the State Attorney’s Office, both Chaits go unconvicted, Mitchell Kraft goes unconvicted, and Stephanie Kraft gets only a gentle lashing with a wet noodle. And both Diane Glasser and Patricia Atkins-Grad go unconvicted as well!