SEC Charges John J. Woods (Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC) of Running Decade-Long, $110M Ponzi Scheme

Last Updated: November 17, 2021

INVESTORS: The SEC has alleged that Horizon Private Equity, III is a “massive ponzi scheme” and that investors are owed $110M in principal as of July 2021. If you have invested with John J. Woods contact us to discuss your options.

Do Investors in John J. Woods’ Alleged Ponzi Scheme Have Options for Financial Recovery?

Sonn Law Group is representing Horizon Private Equity Fund Investors.

If you are worried about your investments with John J. Woods (who is the owner of the Chattanooga Lookouts minor league baseball team) of Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, based in Marietta, Georgia, we want to hear from you. We are committed to gathering the facts and helping you recover as much of your investment as possible.

If you’ve invested with John J. Woods and his companies (Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, Livingston Group Asset Management Company, Inc. d/b/a Southport Capital), call the Sonn Law Group anytime at 844-689-5754 or complete the intake form below to speak with a legal professional from our firm about your options for recovery.

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[ UPDATE ] The Sonn Law Group is investigating the investment brokerage firm Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. Oppenheimer clients who were advised to invest in the alleged Horizon Private Equity III Ponzi scheme may be able to recover their losses by bringing a FINRA claim against Oppenheimer. If you are an Oppenheimer customer who was advised to invest with Horizon Private Equity, please contact us to discuss your options.

In addition, many investors in Horizon Private Equity were solicited by brokers employed by Southport Capital, an investment adviser firm of whom John J. Woods is the President and majority owner. Here are several names of Southport brokers who are alleged to have solicited investments in Horizaon Private Equity, III:

If you were solicited to invest in Horizon Private Equity by any of these individuals, or anyone else associated with Southport Capital, you may have be able to recover losses.

What are the Specific Allegations Made Against John J. Woods in the SEC Complaint?

Below is the text from the SEC’s complaint regarding John J. Woods (Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, Livingston Group Asset Management Company, and Southport Capital):


I. OVERVIEW

john-j-woods-southport-capital

Pictured: John J. Woods, Accused by SEC of Operating a “massive Ponzi scheme”.

1. John Woods has been running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade. As of the end of July 2021, investors in the Ponzi scheme were owed over $110,000,000 in principal. There are more than 400 investors, residing in at least 20 different states, who currently hold investments in the Ponzi scheme, which goes by the name Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC (“Horizon”). Many of the victims are elderly retirees who were preyed upon by investment advisers at Livingston Group Asset Management Company d/b/a Southport Capital (“Southport”), a registered investment adviser firm owned and controlled by Woods. The Defendants’ Ponzi scheme is ongoing and continues to raise money from new investors each month.

2. Woods and other investment adviser representatives at Southport told clients that they would receive returns of 6-7% interest, guaranteed for two to three years, for non-specific investments in a fund called “Horizon Private Equity.” Woods and his cohorts at Southport generally told investors that Horizon would earn a return by investing their money in, for example, government bonds, stocks, or small real estate projects; investors were not told that their money would or could be used to pay returns to earlier investors. But that is exactly what the Defendants did they were only able to pay the guaranteed returns to existing investors by raising and using new investor money. Horizon has not earned any significant profits from legitimate investments; instead a very large percentage of purported “returns” to earlier investors were simply paid out of new investor money.

3. The assets owned by Woods and the entities under his control, including Southport and Horizon, are worth far too little for there to be any realistic prospect that the Ponzi scheme will be able to pay back existing investors their principal, let alone the promised returns. Investors trusted Woods and the Southport investment advisers working at his direction, and they stand to lose significant portions of their retirement savings when the Ponzi scheme inevitably collapses. The longer the scheme continues, the larger the losses will be for those left holding the bag.

4. Defendant Southport, which is registered with the SEC as Livingston Group Asset Management Company, Inc., has more than $824,000,000 in client assets under management. As the President and majority owner of the firm, Woods has extensively used Southport’s offices and employees to carry out his Ponzi scheme. Given his fraudulent conduct, and Southport’s role in the fraud, Woods cannot be allowed to remain in charge of a firm with such a significant sum of client assets under management.

5. Horizon is an entity that Woods used strictly for the purpose of raising money from investors in the Ponzi scheme. Horizon has no offices or employees of its own; all of its activities have been conducted by Woods and Southport employees. At all times relevant to this case, Woods had actual control over Horizon’s assets and operations, and ultimate control over the use and disposition of investor funds. Because the scheme has been going on for so long, and because Woods, Southport, and Horizon did not use any of the typical record-keeping practices one would expect from a legitimate investment fund, millions of dollars’ worth of investor funds are currently unaccounted for.

6. Emergency relief is important in this case. Woods and Horizon, through Southport’s investment advisers, raised in excess of $600,000 per month in new investments during the most recent months for which the Commission has been able to obtain bank records. The Commission believes that additional victims are being defrauded on a daily basis. Given the scope and duration of this Ponzi scheme, an asset freeze and a receiver are necessary to gather, preserve and protect whatever assets still exist for the benefit of the victims of the Defendants’ Ponzi scheme.

Contact Us if You Invested with John J. Woods / Horizon Private Equity

Over our 30+ year history the Sonn Law Group is has recovered hundreds of millions for victims of Ponzi schemes. If you invested with John J. Woods (Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC, Livingston Group Asset Management Company, Inc. d/b/a Southport Capital) we want to help you recover your losses. Call us anytime at 844-689-5754 or complete this short form. We look forward to hearing from you.