SEC: Shakopee couple ran $18M Ponzi scheme to fund horse racing

A Shakopee couple is facing civil litigation for allegedly running a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says Jason Dodd Bullard and Angela Romero-Bullard lied to investors, telling them they were trading their money in foreign currency, but instead they were using it to fund various other business ventures, including a large horse racing operation.

According to the civil complaint, the Shakopee couple raised nearly $18 million from as many as 200 investors over the years - mostly family and friends - telling them their investment would be used to trade foreign currency. 

Federal authorities allege the couple would even send investors phony statements showing that their accounts were increasing in value, when in reality, Bullard Enterprises stopped trading in foreign currencies in 2015, and instead used new investor money to pay "returns" to existing clients.

Nekia Hackworth Jones the director of the SEC’s Atlanta office, which conducted the investigation, said, "These individuals used false statements and fraudulent documents to convince investors to pour millions of dollars into bank accounts used almost exclusively for Ponzi-style payments and for their personal benefit."

In their upscale Shakopee development, several neighbors told FOX 9 they were shocked by the federal charges. 

When Fox 9 reached the Bullard’s primary horse trainer Bernell Rhone by phone Tuesday, he said that while his relationship with the couple was purely professional, he never had reason to believe the couple was involved in criminal activity. 

The SEC said the Bullards used the stolen funds to support not only their horse racing business, but also a Snap Fitness gym franchise and a limo service called Nite Train Transportation. 

Canterbury Park in Shakopee confirmed Tuesday that the Bullard’s are one of their leading horse owners, with purse earnings of more than $360,000. The couple was featured in an article on the track’s website in 2018, highlighting their successful business and philanthropic giving. The article was taken down Tuesday night.

The civil complaint seeks to – among other things – freeze the Bullard’s assets. It also charges them with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. 

FOX 9 reached out to both Angela and Jason for comment and did not hear back.