Guitarist Faces Eight Years in Prison for Multi-Million Dollar Ponzi Scheme
Los Angeles-based and U.K. born guitarist Marino De Silva faces up to eight years in jail for scamming investors out of millions. De Silva told the investors he had unreleased tracks by Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Carlos Santana and The Rolling Stones. De Silva also claimed to be a famous producer and said he was going to remaster and release the "unreleased" tracks in his possession.
According to Classic Rock magazine, De Silva claimed to be a Grammy winner, a close friend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and producer of charity CDs. One problem: De Silva never actually gave the money he raised to the charities he was supposedly helping. An April 2012 story posted on a website from De Silva's hometown says the guitarist took people for millions, using his Angels on Earth Foundation as a front. Some of the causes he said he was raising money for including wounded American troops and kids with autism.
When investors began flocking to De Silva after he made his pitch regarding the unreleased Hendrix, Stones, Santana and Beatles tracks, checks poured in. Investigators are now referring to it all as a Ponzi scheme. That is, De Silva kept moving money around, giving investors tiny portions owed to them all the while spending the rest of the cash.
De Silva did deliver recordings, but they were not of unreleased tracks by the famous artists. Instead, the songs were poor quality covers of already known songs, mostly recorded by De Silva.
In the 1980s, De Silva performed under the stage name "Marino" and was also known as Marino Roberts.
As if all this isn't weird enough, earlier this year De Silva made a music video for his song "Possessed," featuring soft rock singer Benny Mardones.
Watch 'Possessed' Video