Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced that Elizabeth Baldwin (DOB: 11-6-45), with a last known address of 34 Miller Road, Middletown, pled nolo contendere to 92 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses, computer fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, and bad checks in a Ponzi scheme in which Baldwin stole $7.9 million from 49 victims.
In accordance to the plea agreement, Baldwin received a sentence of 30 years, with eight to serve and the remainder suspended with probation and has been ordered to pay $7.9 million in restitution to the victims. Baldwin was remanded to the ACI immediately upon entering her plea.
"Good old fashioned greed drove Liza Baldwin to lie and steal from her clients," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "With promises of high yield investments and a more secure retirement, 49 individuals gave Liza their trust, faith, and savings only to be trapped in a cycle of lies, deceit and eventually left with nothing. It is my hope that today's plea will put the victims at ease knowing Liza Baldwin is paying for her crimes."
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Baldwin fraudulently solicited and obtained millions of dollars from investors who believed they would be participating in a highly successful futures commodity trading pool run by Baldwin called the Newportant Group.
Baldwin misrepresented the past and future profitability of the Newportant Group to prospective investors, stating that the Group had been, and could be expected to continue, making monthly profits of approximately 3- 10 percent. These representations were false because, during the relevant time period, Baldwin consistently lost money while trading in all but one month.
Baldwin also provided most of the prospective investors with a "Commodity Trading Agreement" that stated Baldwin would stop trading if the investor's funds ever lost more than 10 percent of the principal invested – effectively promising investors that they could not lose more than 10 percent of their investment. These representations were false because Baldwin's trading records show that she continued trading investor's funds even though her trading resulted in steady losses well exceeding the 10 percent threshhold.
Moreover, Baldwin failed to inform the prospective investors that the vast majority of funds she received from investors would be used to support her lifestyle and make payments of phantom profits to earlier investors and only a small percentage would actually be employed for commodities trading purposes.
Baldwin plead to 49 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses (OMUFP), 42 counts of computer fraud, one count of misappropriation of funds, one count of embezzlement, and one count uttering and publishing (bad check). Baldwin was sentenced to 10 years, eight to serve with the remainder suspended with probation, on each count of OMUFP, to run concurrent. She was sentenced to five years suspended with probation on each count of computer fraud, to run concurrent to each other yet consecutive to the OMUFP. She was sentenced to 20 years suspended with probation for the one count of misappropriation of funds, to run consecutive to the OMUFP, 10 years suspended with probation for the count of embezzlement, to run consecutive to the OMUFP, and two years suspended with probation, consecutive to the OMUFP.
Superior Court Justice Melanie Thunberg presided over the proceedings. Special Assistant Attorney General Emily Maranjian and Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division Patrick Youngs prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General. Lieutenant Todd Catlow and Investigator Gerard Ratigan, both of the Rhode Island State Police Financial Crimes Unit, led the investigation.