Ohio State is suing former basketball coach Copley and his wife, claiming they created a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of millions of dollars.
The state is also asking the court to appoint a receiver to oversee the couple’s business entities.
The civil suit was brought against Mark and Sharon Dente and their various businesses which operated from their home in Copley and an office near West Market Street in Fairlawn.
The lawsuit, filed in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, alleges that the Dentes and their companies made false statements to investors and knowingly engaged in fraudulent practices.
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The lawsuit shows that the Ohio Division of Securities investigated the various Dente businesses.
An alleged fraudulent scheme
The lawsuit says the state is seeking to end what it calls a ‘fraudulent scheme’ that has raised millions of dollars from investors through the sale of promissory notes and other means related to real estate investments. . The lawsuit said Mark Dente used investors’ money “like his own personal slush fund” and mixed investors’ money with personal accounts.
On Friday, the Beacon Journal could not find an attorney representing Mark Dente and the companies to comment on the state lawsuit. A phone call to Dente-owned AEM Services in Fairlawn went unanswered.
Dente created what was essentially a nationwide house-flipping company that used investor money to buy houses cheaply, do renovations, and resell them quickly for a higher price. In some cases, the transactions were able to take place without it being necessary to take possession of the goods.
Investors also filed private lawsuits against Dente and related financial firms, which promised them a high rate of return. More than 90 investors in those lawsuits say they owe $53.1 million.
The state lawsuit said Mark Dente lured investors with promises of returns of up to 36% over nine months in some cases. At least 79 people have purchased $13.6 million in promissory notes from Dente businesses since June 2016, according to the lawsuit.
Holiday house, boats and meals
Of the $13.6 million raised since 2016, the state’s lawsuit says “much of the money was inappropriately used by Dente for non-commercial purposes or to pay prior investors.” The lawsuit states that Dente is “using funds from newly acquired investors to pay off previous investors in the classic Ponzi scheme manner.”
At least 18 people have invested $2.7 million in the interests of members of the Dente-owned AEM Capital fund since Oct. 30, 2019, according to the lawsuit.
The state’s lawsuit alleges the Dentes used the investors’ money to make more than $217,000 in mortgage payments, nearly $200,000 to buy a vacation home and more than $518,000 to buy a home for an anonymous business partner. The lawsuit also alleges the couple purchased watercraft, including a boat and jet ski, for themselves and their children, paid for school fees, medical bills, groceries, restaurant meals and more. using investors’ money.
Restraining order, receivership sought
The state is asking the court for a temporary restraining order and the appointment of a receiver to oversee all Dente businesses to recover any “illegally obtained” assets held by the defendants and distribute the assets to people who the state says ‘State, were injured.
Mark Dente lawsuits:Former Copley basketball coach accused of failing to repay millions to investors
The lawsuit said a 77-year-old woman who had known Mark Dente for more than 36 years invested $1.5 million in his business and only received part of the money. Another 70-year-old also invested over $1 million and had two investments totaling $950,000 still outstanding at the time the state’s lawsuit was filed.
The lawsuit names Dente Living Trust, Landmark Property Development Ltd., AEM Services, AEM Wholesale, AEM Productions, AEM Investments and AEM Capital Fund. The companies operated from offices in Fairlawn, a “virtual office” in Columbus and the couple’s personal residence in Copley, according to the suit.
Mark Dente was a winning basketball coach at Copley High School, where he graduated in 1989. Earlier this year, the school district said Dente was no longer an employee of the school district and would not be returning as a ‘coach.
Beacon Journal reporter Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or [email protected] Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.