POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 19, 2011
Nohea Colton said she remortgaged her home in Kuliouou to "invest" $700,000 in Perry Jay Griggs' commodities trading company.
She said Griggs promised he would pay off her mortgage in five years and give her a balloon payment of $5 million. The "investment" was too good to be true.
The commodities trading company was really a Ponzi scheme, in which early contributors are paid off by later contributors.
Griggs pulled it off while serving time in a Nevada prison for ripping off 47 victims in a previous Ponzi scheme in California.
Griggs, who pleaded guilty in April, was scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Monday on charges that he swindled nearly $2 million from Hawaii prison inmates serving time with him in Nevada, and their families.
However, in a report Monday, the court's Probation and Pretrial Services office recommended Griggs get a sentence longer than the five to six years suggested in advisory sentencing guidelines. That prompted the judge to reschedule sentencing for next month.
Under a recent Supreme Court decision, the recommendation for a longer sentence requires prior notice even if the judge ultimately ignores the recommendation.
Colton's sister Nanifay Paglinawan agrees that Griggs deserves a longer term. She said Griggs used religion as a tool to hook his victims.
"It worked," she said. "It was a good tool to use."
When the scheme collapsed, Paglinawan said, she lost the property on which she had two homes.
Since Paglinawan and other victims might not be able to return to court next month, U.S. District Judge David Ezra allowed them to address the court and allowed Griggs to make a statement to them. Griggs apologized, admitting he was deceitful and that what he did was despicable.