Most 19-year-olds are concerned with school and friends, but Ian Bick of Danbury, Connecticut, has big business plans as the owner of a popular music venue in town.
That's if he doesn't end up in federal prison as he faces charges of running a nearly $500,000 Ponzi scheme. In a recent 11-page federal indictment that a "federal grand jury sitting in New Haven returned," Bick was charged with 15 counts including wire fraud, money laundering and making a false statement, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut.
Bick said that things are going well at his business, Tuxedo Junction on Ives Street in Danbury.
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"There’s no better feeling in the world than standing on stage and seeing 800 kids having the best time of their life and not having a care in the world," Bick said in an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut on Saturday at his club.
But things are not so carefree for the club owner. While he says things are going well at Tuxedo Junction, Bick who is just 19 years old is now facing federal charges in connection with other businesses he runs.
"The past couple days have been pretty crazy," Bick said. "I don’t think any 19-year-old, not that I know of, has experienced what I’ve experienced."
However, prosecutors said that the teen convinced more than 15 people to invest nearly a $500,000-dollar Ponzi scheme.
He is also accused of falsely telling U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents in June that 70 to 80 percent of the money from one of the investors was used on "artist deposits," according to the U.S. attorney's office. Prosecutors said that very little of the money actually went toward that.
"Bick solicited investment funds from his friends, former classmates, acquaintances, and their parents by promising high investment returns over relatively short periods of time," federal prosecutors said in a news release.
Prosecutors said Bick promised he could do that by reselling electronics and organizing and promoting shows, but that he instead spent money on himself, including for hotels and jet skis.
When NBC Connecticut asked Bick in-person about whether he ran a Ponzi scheme, he declined to comment on the pending case.
“At this time, I can’t say anything in regards to the case," Bick said.
For now, Bick said he’s letting his attorney, Jonathan Einhorn handle the legal issues. Einhorn denied Bick ran a Ponzi scheme and said there was no crime or criminal intent. He said Bick has all intentions of paying back all the investors, who were family and friends, and that no one will lose money.
Meanwhile, Bick's focus is on what he considers the main stage of his business ventures, Tuxedo Junction.
“I’ve been through a lot in my life and I’ve learned a lot through those experiences and every one of those bad experiences and good experiences has brought me to this point," Bick said. "So, it feels right in my heart this is what I should be doing and it’s going to become very successful.”
Bick also owns and manages other entertainment venues and companies, including This is Where It's At Entertainment, Planet Youth Entertainment, W&B Wholesale and W&B Investments.
Bick has pleaded not guilty to the 15 counts against him, including 11 counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering and one count of making a false statement. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, 10 years for each count of money laundering and five years for the charge of making a false statement, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
He was release on a $250,000 bond on the condition that he doesn't contact any of the victims or witnesses named in the case or use social media.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation division and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the case with the help of Danbury police and the Connecticut Department of Banking. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. McGarry is prosecuting the case, which U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer is presiding over in Bridgeport.
The U.S. attorney's office asks anyone with information on the case to contact the FBI at 203-777-6311.