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2 men from Cornelius sentenced to prison after fraudulent investment scheme

CHARLOTTE — Two men from Cornelius who used a fraudulent investment scheme to fund their lavish lifestyles will now have to spend time in federal prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday that Marlin Hershey and Dana Bradley were sentenced to 21 months and 10 months in prison, respectively.

According to federal authorities, the pair would push two companies on local investors, and they would lie about how well the companies were doing to get people to invest. The Department of Justice says they also didn’t inform investors that they would be getting “management fees” and “commission-like payments” that could be 10% of the victims’ investments.

One victim told Channel 9 in 2022 that he invested $50,000 in 2012 in one of the companies run by Hershey and Bradley.

He said he was supposed to earn interest and get the money back at the end of a 30-month term, but Hershey and Bradley kept offering to extend the term even after the business he supposedly invested in went under. The victim said he found out about the business’ failure from searching on Google.

“The Google search revealed that they had sold the business almost a year earlier from when I had signed my note extension,” the victim said. “So, I immediately picked up the phone and called my attorney.”

Channel 9 learned that Bradley and Hershey made millions from investors, and public social media photos showed Bradley traveling across the world. One post said he had a quest to “visit the Seven Wonders of the World” and as of 2019, he had visited six of them.

According to the Department of Justice, the pair would also use new investors’ money to make payments to existing investors in a “Ponzi-style” scheme.

The feds say both companies, Performance Retire on Rentals, LLC and Distressed Lending Fund, eventually failed, causing losses for the investors.

Hershey and Bradley pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy last June, but they were just sentenced to their prison terms on Thursday. They’ll also have to serve two years of probation after their release.

The DOJ said that the pair will have to pay back more than $333,000 in restitution to victims, and they’ll also have to pay more than $600,000 in combined forfeiture and fines.

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