EminiFX CEO Eddy Alexandre has been sentenced to 108 months and to pay restitution of $214 million to victims once that process is set.
This reporting is sponsored by a grant from The McGraw Center for Business Journalism at the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
Learn more about the center here.
NEW YORK — A federal judge sentenced EminiFX CEO Eddy Alexandre to nine years in prison Tuesday in the cryptocurrency trading fraud that has upended the lives of tens of thousands of people who poured nearly $250 million into Alexandre’s company.
Calling the operation a “massive Ponzi scheme” that Alexandre orchestrated and carried out for months, United States District Judge John P. Cronan also ordered Alexandre to make restitution of nearly $214 million. Cronan set August 18 as the date for Alexandre to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to start serving the sentence.
In pronouncing the sentence, Cronan said an estimated 25,000 people were victimized, most of them Haitian and church members that Alexandre attracted because of his stature as a pillar in that community. Alexandre is a chaplain at Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist in Queens and is connected to numerous other groups also responsible for the scam, according to a class action suit.
Based on the contents of 500 letters of support Cronan received — many of which referred to Alexandre as a trustworthy, honest man of God and a “hero in the community” — the judge said it’s still not clear that the writers perceive themselves as victims.
“Victims placed their trust in him,” Cronan. “But he did steer them wrong. He betrayed that trust.”
Avarice and ambition played a role in the eight-month-long operation, Cronan added. He said Alexandre was neither desperate for money nor took part in an isolated transgression. Alexandre’s fraud allowed him to purchase luxury vehicles and a $4.8 million home in Manhasset, Long Island, with investors’ funds knowing the trade secret technology and returns he promised were fake.
Alexandre, 51, was arrested in May 2022 after the FBI found that his cryptocurrency and foreign exchange investment platform was a pyramid scheme that relied on investors recruiting new members to join. Investigators said he advertised that a robot-assisted trading software he had marketed as his trade secret could yield weekly returns of 5% to 9.99% and millionaire status within two to three years. If, that is, the investors put in a hefty enough initial investment and let the funds accumulate without withdrawing.
In reality, the government said, Alexandre operated a multi-level marketing scheme that defrauded EminiFX club members of nearly $250 million – $50 million of which was lost in the financial products he did invest in. Also, Alexande showed unsuspecting members fictitious weekly returns through his app. When some members requested withdrawals, he used the investors’ money for those payouts.
Alexandre pled guilty in February 2023 and has been cooperating with a court-appointed receiver to recover the funds and determine what’s available to distribute to victims. Cronan planned to set October 16 to hear about the final amount available and list of victims whose money should be returned.
“Victims of this offense are not likely to be made whole,” Cronan said. “Thousands of lives were damaged.”
Tensions in the court
The ruling came at the end of a four-hour sentencing hearing that proved emotionally charged, with prosecutors and victims facing off against the defense and supporters of Alexandre inside the courtroom.
From an overflow room where about 50 people – mostly Haitian supporters of Alexandre – gathered to watch a livestream of the proceedings from Cronan’s packed main courtroom, spectators alternately snickered or cheered as the parties made their arguments, hummed hymns, bowed their heads or sucked their teeth at some statements.
“Ki sa,” one supporter whisper-yelled in Creole when Cronan handed down the nine-year sentence to Alexandre. “What?”
Cries of “Jezi” and long sighs punctuated the courtroom as victims and supporters spoke about their experiences with EminiFX.
Ermine Mompremier, a nurse, said she had flown from Kentucky to ask for leniency for Alexandre because the investment club had changed her life. With the withdrawals she was able to make, Mompremier said, she was able to better support her 14 siblings and parents in Haiti.
“It was the best thing that could happen to me,” Mompremier said. “I was able to help me. It’s hard to see something that was so good turn bad, like people say.
“You know, things happen, we’re human,” Mompremier said.
Phucien Baptiste, a victim, asked Cronan to impose an even harsher sentence than the 10 years the plea deal set as a maximum because Alexandre “robbed” the community.
A former police inspector in Haiti who fled the country after corrupt officials menaced him for turning down bribes, Baptiste, now a nurse, asked Cronan to levy the stiffest sentence against Alexandre.
“Do you have a heart, Mr. Alexandre?” Baptiste asked from the podium, while looking at Alexandre sitting at the defense table. “I invested in this Ponzi scheme Mr. Alexandre brought to the community. Mr. Alexandre took this opportunity to rob the community.”
Baptiste said he invested $25,000. He’s now part of the class action complaint case filed in Florida.
Alexandre also spoke during the hearing, pleading for leniency.
“I fully acknowledge the gravity of my actions,” said Alexandre, who stood up in his customary suit and bow-tie to read from prepared statements. “I sincerely apologize to the Court and to all those affected. This experience has been a wake-up call…. I am willing to make amends.”
In the end, the supplications spared Alexandre, a Valley Stream father-of-three sons, one year off the maximum 10 years he could’ve received because of his plea. Cronan said the scope of the fraud, the use of sophisticated methods and incentives and commissions promised for recruitment made the crime a calculated fraud, not a one-time transgression.
Jabs at the courthouse steps
Later on, some people bickered outside the federal courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, when attendees spilled out of the hearing throwing verbal jabs.
A rowdy group rushed toward Baptiste, shouting that he was going against Alexandre to get a better payday when the recovered funds are eventually distributed. Baptiste, in turn, said they were brainwashed. Other Alexandre opponents said the hard-core supporters must stop judging Alexandre based on emotion and to use facts instead.
“Moun yo ap fè travay yo, men Ayisyen ap toujou fè stupid,” said one man who drove from Maryland to attend the hearing. “The system is working like it’s supposed to, but some Haitians will always be ignorant.”
Binson Guillaume, a Long Island-based truck driver who said he took $100,000 from his 401(k) to invest, said he’s satisfied with the sentence.
“I think, more or less, it brings some relief,” Guillaume said. “I’m satisfied, and I have some hope too that we can get back some of the money.”