By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter
COLUMBUS, GA – Fifty-eight-year-old Phyllis Bleckley and her husband, 53-year-old Michael Bleckley, faced the people that will be making a verdict in their trial as jury selection got underway Tuesday in a courtroom on the top floor of the Government Center downtown.
Prosecutors say they have evidence proving the couple orchestrated a Ponzi Scheme- an investment operation where returns are paid to investors from other investors' money.
Senior District Attorney LaRae Moore told potential jurors the Kim Family is the victim. They own the Mikata Japanese Steakhouse off Airport Thruway.
The state claims the Kim family lost more than $3 million in investments with the Bleckleys over a period of eight years.
According to prosecutors, the Bleckleys told the Kims they were putting their money in German stocks and bonds when they were really using it for themselves, buying properties across the Chattahoochee Valley like a pecan farm, funeral home and the popular Bulloch House Restaurant in Warm Springs.
Over time, Moore says the husband and wife starting selling unregistered securities to the victims in an effort to cover up the alleged scheme.
The Bleckleys have plead not guilty and when it comes to allegations of the Ponzi scheme, their attorney, former Columbus Mayor Frank Martin, says there was no such thing.
WTVM is told this will be a lengthy trial. Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Gil McBride says he has blocked off two weeks for the proceedings.
Opening arguments are expected to get underway Wednesday at the Government Center.
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