Gerard Cellette spent money like it was going out of style in Andover, Minn. He owned homes worth $7.2 million, some decked out with bowling alleys and $100,000 video arcades. One barn-like structure had a 1950s-style diner, a screening room and go-cart track out back.
He also spent lavishly on gifts for friends and family members, racking up $1 million on his Visa card. He generously donated $4 million to the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minn., owned 11 cars and spent $1.1 million on jets and vacations. He shelled out $300,000 on sports tickets, sitting in a luxury box at Minnesota Vikings football games.
To put it mildly, Cellette, 49, lived a dream life. But just like Bernie Madoff—the king of all Ponzi schemes—Cellette paid for all the toys, travel and fun with money he stole from unwitting investors, according to prosecutors. And just like Madoff, who was arrested five years ago Wednesday, Cellette is behind bars.
(Read more: Five years on, Madoff still spinning the story)
Cellette, who graduated from high school but never attended college, ran a nearly $200 million Ponzi scheme out of his home office, according to prosecutors.