A Culpepper man was sentenced today to nine years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that took in approximately $9 million and defrauded over 20 victims of $1.8 million.
According to court documents, from 2014 through 2018, Brian Thomas Sapp, 38, formerly of Alexandria, committed wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in executing the scheme. Sapp preyed on his closest friends and their families, many of whom described Sapp as a “best friend” and “like a brother.” He caused financial hardship to many victims, including those with special needs children.
To execute the scheme, Sapp set up Novus Properties, claiming he had identified distressed single family homes in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, which he would purchase and then resell to guaranteed buyers. All he needed was investor funds to finance the property flips. On hundreds of occasions, Sapp fabricated a sophisticated set of interlocking purchase, sale, guarantee, and HUD-1 settlement documents to induce victims to part with money. He stole real identities of sellers and buyers and digitally forged their signatures hundreds of times. Sapp bragged that he was “killing it” and “dominating the market.” In reality, he never closed a single deal.
Instead, Sapp used investor money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including golf trips, meals out, and attending wealth-building seminars. Sapp spent $80,000 to purchase and customize a Mercedes van that he outfitted with special rooftop satellite TV antennas and flat screen TVs. Sapp loaded the van with professional grilling equipment, tents, food and beverage service stations, and other amenities so that he could host elaborate tailgating parties at Penn State football games, where he ate and drank with his victims at their expense, unbeknownst to them at the time.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-446.