David Hernandez Pleads 'Not Guilty'

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Posted by chicagomedia.org on July 15, 2009 at 11:35:40:

Man accused in Ponzi scheme pleads not guilty
July 15, 2009 10:40 AM

With a heavy bandage on his left forearm and the start of a beard on his face, financier David Hernandez today made his first appearance in federal court in Chicago since his indictment for allegedly running a $12 million Ponzi scheme.

Hernandez pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox, who postponed the rest of the hearing until Monday so Hernandez's attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, can be present. Hernandez is to remain in custody until then, Cox ordered.

Hernandez, whose alleged scheme helped bankroll the local Internet sports radio station Chicago Sports Webio, fled the Chicago area after being charged last month. The Downers Grove man was taken into custody at a Normal hotel after apparently attempting suicide.

There was no mention of the obvious injury to his arm. Assistant U.S. Atty. Tinos Diamantatos told the judge that the government will seek to keep Hernandez detained because he is a "serious risk of flight."

An assistant federal defender representing Hernandez in Steinback's absence said Hernandez was complaining of a lack of access to phones at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the federal jail in downtown Chicago where he is being held.

Federal authorities have said Hernandez's alleged scheme victimized 290 individuals over a 2-year period. When the Ponzi scheme collapsed last month, victims lost $3.5 million, prosecutors said.

Hernandez himself had little to say in court beyond entering his plea of not guilty and wishing the judge a good morning.

--Jeff Coen, Chicago Tribune

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