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Chatsworth man pleads not guilty in alleged NASCAR Ponzi scheme

December 14, 2009 |  6:34 pm

A Chatsworth man who allegedly took at least $10 million from people who thought they were financing a business that distributed merchandise for the National Assn. for Stock Car Auto Racing pleaded not guilty today to federal fraud charges, authorities said.

Eliott Jay Dresher, 63, was arraigned this morning in federal court in Los Angeles and was ordered held without bail after a judge decided he was a flight risk, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

A federal grand jury on Dec. 4 indicted Dresher on four counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, prosecutors said.

Dresher allegedly solicited money by promising at least 50 victims that their investments would be used to fund the business, which would purchase association apparel and sell it to stores such as Costco, according to the indictment. He allegedly told investors that he had $70 million in bank accounts but had hired two lawyers to help retrieve the funds because he was having trouble accessing the money.

Federal prosecutors allege that Dresher guaranteed investors returns of 20 to 25 percent every six months. But he never operated his business and the funds were nothing more than Ponzi payments, according to the indictment.

The scheme fell apart last year, prosecutors said, after Dresher was unable to pay his investors.

Dresher's case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service. A trial is scheduled for Jan. 26.

-- Robert J. Lopez