Aug. 30—An attorney for a Georgia man accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme disputed the charge Monday and said government regulators created “a catastrophe” through a “tragic shoot-first/ask-questions-later strategy.”
Attorney David M. Chaiken, of Atlanta, said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s claims a year ago regarding his client, former Chattanooga Lookouts minority owner John J. Woods, don’t meet the FBI’s definition of a Ponzi scheme.
The attorney said in an email that the SEC’s “use of this pejorative term in its press release and in its complaint mischaracterized the actual facts and unfairly portrayed” Woods and others.
Chaiken said Woods was managing a private equity fund with real assets that would have been worth more than what the fund owed investors.
He said, for example, Woods sold his 20.1% share of the minor league baseball team back to the Lookouts for $1.87 million last October. With the approval by Chattanooga and Hamilton County this summer for a new $79.5 million ballpark for the Lookouts, the attorney said the value of the team “likely tripled this month due in no small part to Mr. Woods’ hard work over the years to obtain approval for a new stadium.”
The SEC said in an email that it doesn’t comment beyond court filings.
In August 2021, Woods, who lives in Marietta, Georgia, was accused by the SEC in a civil complaint of “running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade,” defrauding more than 400 investors. The SEC said Woods had…
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