Al Moriarty ordered to pay $10.2 million to Ponzi scheme victims

Al Moriarty is taken into custody after his sentencing in September. His lawyer, Jeff Stulberg, sits next to him.
Al Moriarty is taken into custody after his sentencing in September. His lawyer, Jeff Stulberg, sits next to him.

Al Moriarty, the Cal Poly Hall of Famer convicted of running an illegal Ponzi scheme, must pay investors $10.2 million in restitution, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Moriarty, 81, pleaded no contest in August to seven felony fraud charges. While he was sentenced to five years in jail, the restitution he would have to pay was contingent on a report from the county probation department.

During a hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Steve von Dohlen said the probation department identified 48 claims from victims, totaling $10,209,301.

Because Moriarty did not agree with that amount, Superior Court Judge Hugh Mullin reviewed transcripts from past court hearings. As a condition of his plea, Moriarty had agreed to pay whatever amount the probation department determined was owed. Based on that, Mullin ordered Moriarty to pay the full amount.

Moriarty began selling life insurance while attending Cal Poly in the 1950s, when he was a notable member of the Mustangs football team. A major Cal Poly booster, he used his university connections to recruit clients to his growing financial services firm. Around 2007, the District Attorney’s Office said, Moriarty began a scheme of using new investor money to pay off previous investors while providing himself a lavish lifestyle in Nipomo.

Dozens of investors said they lost money — often large chunks of their retirement savings.

During his sentencing, Moriarty vowed to repay them.

“I will spend the rest of my life making restitution to everyone,” he said. “I plan to do it. That’s my life now.”

Moriarty did not speak during the hearing Wednesday. He was not represented by an attorney, having relieved his latest — his third criminal defense attorney — after his sentencing.

As bankruptcy attorneys continue to sell off Moriarty possessions to pay some of his debts, it’s unlikely Moriarty will ever be able to pay his restitution. In one bankruptcy document, Moriarty claimed he lost most of his money in 2009, the year he paid more than $625,000 for naming rights to the scoreboard at Cal Poly’s football stadium. That’s also when Moriarty’s Ponzi scheme intensified.

According to a recent bankruptcy document, a law firm hired to perform an analysis of Moriarty’s Ponzi scheme concluded that in the four years prior to Moriarty’s Dec. 31, 2012, bankruptcy filing, only two of more than 100 investors made money from Moriarty — one who made $29,000 and another who made $3,000.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune