BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – A Raleigh County pharmacist was sentenced to prison for running a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme. Natalie Cochran cost her victims over $2 million in losses.
The sentencing for Cochran was held Thursday, March 18, 2021. Cochran will spend more than 11 years in prison. She was also ordered to pay over $2.5 million in restitution to the victims and serve a term of three years of supervised release.
According to court documents and admissions at the plea and sentencing hearings, Cochran, the owner of Technology Management Solutions and Tactical Solutions Group in Beckley, knowingly defrauded and took money and property from people, a financial institution, and several other companies from June 2017 through at least August 22, 2019.
A release from the United States Attorney said Cochran persuaded them to invest in TMS and TSG and in fake government contracts by making false misrepresentations regarding her and her companies’ experience. Cochran convinced at least 11 people to invest approximately $2.5 million in alleged government contracts. The investors paid through personal checks, cashier’s checks and wire transfers. She also convinced an investor to send $511,920 through a wire transfer from North Carolina.
An investigation found Cochran never invested the money she received from victims, instead she put it into her personal and business bank accounts for personal purposes unrelated to the investments. Cochran admitted to using investor funds to make numerous purchases over $10,000, including withdrawing more than $37,500 to purchase a 1965 Shelby Cobra. She also admitted to knowing that at least one of her investors suffered a financial hardship as a result of her scheme. As part of this scheme, Cochran used some investors’ funds to pay other investors a partial return on their investment.
Cochran pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges on September 21, 2020. Pursuant to her plea agreement, she also agreed to forfeit her interest to the United States in the assets she obtained through her fraudulent activities, including two pieces of real property, a 1965 Shelby Cobra, multiple vehicles, jewelry and nearly $45,000 seized from her business’ bank account.
Acting United States Attorney Lisa Johnston released a statement regarding the sentencing:
“I want to commend the victims for the remarkable courage they displayed throughout the investigation and prosecution of this case. I also want to thank the West Virginia State Police , the United States Secret Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) and Assistant United States Attorneys Kathleen Robeson and Greg McVey who worked tremendously hard to ensure that the defendant was held accountable for the significant harm she inflicted on the victims.”Lisa Johnston, Acting United States Attorney
United States District Judge Frank W. Volk imposed the sentence.