Appeals court upholds sentence in Ponzi scheme

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A federal appeals court has upheld the 30-year prison sentence for a man convicted of operating what prosecutors called the largest Ponzi scheme in Louisiana's history.

In a 15-page opinion issued Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence for Matthew Pizzolato, of Tickfaw.

Pizzolato also was ordered to make over $15 million in restitution to the 165 victims he defrauded. He had offices in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond and Lake Charles and advertised investment services under several company names, including Gulf Region Guaranty Inc.

Prosecutors said he promised high rates of return and claimed investors' money was protected against losses, but made risky investments they didn't authorize, gave away millions to friends and family and spent much of the money on luxury items for himself.

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