Looking haggard and frail, Richard Elkinson, the Framingham man accused of running a $29 million Ponzi scheme, appeared in federal court in Boston today for the first time since his Jan. 5 arrest at a Mississippi casino.
Elkinson, 76, walked slowly into the court room, in khaki green prison garb, peering sheepishly at the small crowd, which included at least two of his victims. The front two benches, reserved for family, were empty.
Elkinson huddled closely with the public defender who has been assigned to represent him. He did not make a statement. A lawyer from the US Attorney's office asked Judge Marianne B. Bowler cq to forbid Elkinson to contact any of his victims, as well as his wife, Joan Elkinson, who "is also a victim in this case," the prosecutor said.
Elkinson's lawyer, Stellio Sinnis, objected, saying that there was no allegation that Joan Elkinson had invested in the scheme. He said the two had had a happy marriage until now. "If she doesn't want to speak to him, she can not accept his calls,'' Sinnis said.
The judge denied the prosecutor's request, saying the government would have to file an affidavit declaring that there is reason for Elkinson to be barred from trying to reach his wife.
The FBI charged him with fraud early this month, alleging that Elkinson swindled at least $29 million from 130 investors in a uniform-financing business that never existed. Elkinson had sold promissory notes to investors for 20 years for his company, Northeast Sales, according to the FBI, promising annual interest rates of 9 percent to 13 percent. But instead of investing the money, he kept much of it and used it to finance gambling trips to Las Vegas, according to the government's complaint.
Many investors received those high returns for years, but last year, Elkinson began missing payments, and he disappeared in December. He was arrested Jan. 5 at a Biloxi, Miss., casino.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil lawsuit against Elkinson, alleging the same fraud.
The judge set a detention and probable-cause hearing for Elkinson on Feb. 4. He is being held at an undisclosed prison, in the custody of the US Marshals Service.