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Midwest City estate planner sentenced to 10 years in prison for role in Ponzi scheme

Defendant, who fled to Philippines after 2011 federal indictment, was arrested in Manila last year.
by Brianna Bailey Published: March 28, 2013

A federal judge has sentenced a Midwest City man who conned seniors out of their savings to serve nearly 10 years in prison and pay $4.6 million in restitution for his role in the Ponzi scheme.

Joe Don Johnson, 43, was an estate planner who drew up wills for his elder clients. He would convince the seniors to invest their life savings with the now-defunct Oklahoma City-based company Global West Funding Ltd., operated by Brian McKye.

Johnson promised his clients returns as high as 20 percent, but the bulk of the money went to pay off earlier investors, commissions to Johnson and other salesmen, as well as McKye's personal expenses, according to court documents.

While Johnson's victims said they were happy on Tuesday that Johnson had received a lengthy prison sentence, they have little hope they ever will receive restitution.

Moore resident Bonnie Cory, 73, a retired computer assembly worker, lost $45,000 she invested with Johnson and McKye. Since the Ponzi scheme was uncovered, Cory has had only about $900 returned to her through a receiver after the Oklahoma Securities Department froze all of McKye's assets.

“I'm sure I won't get nothing more out of it — I won't live that long,” Cory said.

Oklahoma City resident Vaden Wheeler, 95, invested about $200,000 with Johnson, but has received only about $4,000 back.

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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