COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – A local man is now facing charges in connection with a multi-million dollar investment scheme.
Columbus investigators say Michael Bleckley Jr. played a part in the scam spearheaded by his father and stepmother.
Michael Bleckley Sr. and his wife, Phyllis, are set to go to trial in the next ten days and now, their son has turned himself in to Columbus Police, charged in the same case that reportedly set the victims back more than $3 million.
Columbus Police say 28-year-old Bleckley Junior received $75, 000 from members of the Kim family, who own the Mikata Japanese restaurant on Airport Thruway.
According to investigators, the Bleckleys told the Kim family they were investing their money in German stocks and bonds but instead, they were buying properties and using it for themselves.
The Kims say Bleckley Jr. told them he was helping his father monitor the stock market.
Frank Martin, attorney for the Bleckley family, says he didn't know any alleged criminal wrongdoing.
"To be guilty of a crime, you have to be aware that what you're doing has some illegal aspect to it. To go pick up some money at a bank and give it to your father- standing alone, that's not evidence of a crime at all because you have to prove someone guilty, they have to know that the money you're receiving is going to be misappropriated or misused," Martin told News Leader 9 after his preliminary hearing Friday.
Members of the Kim family had no comment coming out of court but the victims told the judge Michael Bleckley Jr. "knew everything" about the alleged Ponzi scheme. They told the judge they invested $3.6 million with the Bleckley family over a period off eight years but never saw a dime in gains.
According to the Muscogee County Jail, Michael Keith Bleckley, Junior faced 8 felony charges, 7 counts of theft by taking and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Bleckley Junior pled not guilty during his preliminary hearing Friday. A judge dropped 5 felony theft by taking charges, saying there was not enough evidence to support them. Two theft charges and one conspiracy charge were bound over to Muscogee County Superior Court .
Bleckley was granted bond.
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