A telephone interview with Simmons’ former attorney, Brian Cromwell, revealed that neither he nor his former law firm will be defending the once prominent Ashe County businessman. Cromwell explained that he recently left the law firm, Hunton & Williams, for another cross town firm, Parker Poe.
Simmons is scheduled to go before the court for Inquiry on Status of Council at 9:30 a.m. to determine who will be presenting him.
According to a criminal complaint filed on Dec. 17, 2009, Simmons allegedly executed a “ponzi” style scheme to defraud 240 investors of $35 million.
A ponzi scheme, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is named after conman Charles Ponzi. Ponzi used an illegal pyramid to fool thousands of New England residents into investing in a postage stamp speculation scheme back in the 1920s. The scope of his scheme involved taking advantage of the differences between U.S. and foreign currencies used to buy and sell international mail coupons. This type of scheme still occurs today as conspirators will use money from new investors to pay off earlier investors until the whole scheme collapses, the USSEC said.
Simmons, court documents show, allegedly promised investors to place their funds in the foreign currency exchange market. Instead, he allegedly deposited the funds into various bank accounts and withdrew new investor money as needed to make style payments to other investors and diverted other investor money to luxury purchases including cars, real estate, expenses for side businesses, and other unrelated foreign exchange expenses.