A $730,000 alleged fraud could turn in to a 20 year prison sentence for one Pella resident.
Beverly Joan DeRonde, 61, began a scheme over a seven-year period beginning in 2003 soliciting funds with hand-written letters from family and friends by false pretenses.
DeRonde would ask for loans, supposedly for surprise birthday or anniversary presents for her husband or to purchase equipment for a boat repair shop. She promised large amounts of interest in return.
Nearly a dozen people filed legal action with one victim giving more than $268,000.
DeRonde admitted that she did not use the loan proceeds as represented but, instead, used the money to purchase antiques, jewelry, Rolex watches, and other consumer items. She also used loan proceeds to repay loans she previously had obtained from other individuals.
DeRonde pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and is due for sentencing on April 5th and faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, and was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.