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For Immediate Release
December 9, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

TARGETING AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITIES, BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED ON SECURITIES FRAUD

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that John St. Augustine McDonald, age 27, chairman of the fraudulent Bethesda-area investment businesses that he named Thornapple Capital and Thornapple Sisters, was sentenced by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge William J. Rowan III, to serve 18 months in the Montgomery County Detention Center, commencing January 1, 2005. The Court suspended the remainder of a 3-year sentence. The sentence follows Mr. McDonald’s conviction on fifteen counts of securities fraud, one count of acting as an unregistered securities broker-dealer and one count of selling unregistered securities. Judge Rowan also sentenced John McDonald to a 5-year period of supervised probation and ordered him to pay $109,412.25 in restitution to the 15 victims of the fraud scheme named in the State’s indictment.

The defendant’s scheme, an "affinity fraud", primarily targeted members of his church and other members of the African-American community. He appeared to be a prosperous young businessman on his stated quest to become the "first black billionaire." He promised wealth for investors if they bought a security named "bringmefoodnow,co." In fact, the investment opportunity did not even exist as a security. McDonald took the money that he received from investors and used it for personal expenses. For example, he used the money for food delivery, entertainment, limousine services, and other trappings of wealth and success.

McDonald’s fraudulent businesses were shut down by the Maryland Division of Securities. The Defendant’s conviction and sentencing follows an investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Attorney General’s Office and the Maryland State Police.

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