Victims of Eden Prairie Ponzi scheme fill courtroom - KMSP-TV

Victims of Eden Prairie Ponzi scheme fill courtroom

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Sean Meadows, of Eden Prairie, is accused of stealing more than $10 million through a Ponzi scheme, and when he made his first court appearance, he had plenty of company.

Rather than investing his clients' money as he pledged, the Minneapolis-based financial planner is charged with spending it on himself. On Wednesday, dozens of his victims packed showed up, and some even confronted him as he entered the courtroom. Others say they just wanted to get a look at the man who made off with their money.

"We'll never get it back," Teresa Breid told Fox 9 News. "It throws a whole new wrench into our financial security for our retirement."

Breid and her husband, Richard, traveled all the way from Arizona to watch their former financial advisor be arraigned on 12 counts of fraud and money laundering. All told, they lost about $154,000, and they are among the 50 clients meadows is accused of defrauding. Prosecutors say he convinced people to transfer money from their savings and retirement accounts with promises of better returns.

"I actually lost $100,000," Lisa Kuehn admitted.

Not only did Kuehn trust the 41-year-old Meadows with her 401K, but also the money from her late husband's life insurance.

"That was a big hit," she reflected. "I took a really big hit, and it's going to affect my future -- and I don't think Sean should be entitled to have a future after he stole from all of us."

Prosecutors contend that Meadows used his clients' money to pay himself a salary, buy a car, pay his personal credit card bill and take gambling trips to Las Vegas. He's even accused of spending $100,000 on "adult entertainment." That only adds to the outrage many victims feel.

"Angry, frustrated," Kuehn admitted. "I don't feel that us victims have very many rights. I mean, who supports us? The laws don't support us. It's a sad situation for a lot of people."

Some of Meadows' alleged victims even included family and close friends -- and much to their surprise, Meadows walked out of federal court after entering a not-guilty plea.

"When you cross family, it just shows that there are no morals and there's no respect for anything," Mike Thorne, of Shoreview, said. "It just shows selfishness."

In an ironic twist, Meadows will be represented by a public defender because he can't afford his own attorney. That has some victims feeling that Meadows is still gaming the system by having taxpayers pick up the tab for his defense.

"I mean, after he's gotten $9-10 million out of us, then he's going to plead not guilty with a court-appointed attorney," Richard Breid said. "It's like, seriously? We're going to support him some more. I felt like saying, 'If you're not guilty, I'll take my money now.'"

So many of Meadows' alleged victims showed up on Wednesday, some had to wait in the hall because there simply wasn't room for everyone inside the courtroom. Meadows was released on a long list of conditions after posting a $25,000 unsecured bond. He must turn over his passport, must abide by a curfew, is banned from gambling, and will be on probation supervision during the duration of the trial.

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