A federal investigation into allegations Dawn J. Bennett was running a $20 million Ponzi scheme took a strange turn earlier this month after authorities searched her Chevy Chase penthouse.
There, FBI agents found written directions and materials to be used to cast a “voodoo spell” on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers looking into her financial dealings, according to court filings unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
Bennett was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements related to a loan and credit application, court records show.
The FBI alleges Bennett allegedly diverted money from the scheme for more than two-and-a-half years to pay earlier investors and purchase hundreds of pairs of shoes and a luxury suite at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, according to an affidavit filed by Special Agent Keith A. Custer.
The SEC also filed charges Friday against Bennett’s company, DJB Holdings LLC, which runs her Washington-based sports apparel company, DJBennett, the affidavit said.
Bennett’s attorney, Steven Gremminger of Gremminger Law Firm in Washington, did not respond to a request for comment.
In searching Bennett’s home, agents found instructions for a “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell,” which the affidavit says is synonymous with a “voodoo spell.” The spell calls for the creator to to say the name of the target, followed by, “I cross and cover you(,) come under my command(.) I command you to hold your tongue.” The spell was allegedly intended to get the attorneys to “shut up” about Bennett, Custer wrote.
Bennett had handwritten directions on how to cut open an animal tongue and biographical information about three SEC attorneys working on the investigation against her, the affidavit states. She also had two freezers containing a dozen sealed Mason jars with identifying information about the SEC attorneys, the affidavit states.
Bennett allegedly targeted elderly and “financially unsophisticated” investors to pay for DJBennett by misrepresenting the profitability of her company, lying about the rate of return and risks and liabilities associated with the investment, authorities said. She ultimately had 46 investors, according to court records.
She used that money to pay for her luxurious lifestyle, including the $500,000 annual lease for the AT&T Stadium suite. Records from the Cowboys stadium showed Bennett owed more than $300,000 from the 2013 season when she made her lease payment in September 2014. The original lease agreement was signed in 2007 and kicked in with the 2009 season, according to an affidavit.
Bennett also was the host of the nationally syndicated “Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett,” which featured guests including Sen. Rand Paul, Ben Carson and Ted Nugent, according to the show’s website. The show aired locally on WMAL-AM.
The SEC previously banned Bennett from the securities industry in July 2016 after she ignored an enforcement order against her.
The cases are USA v. Bennett, 8:17-mj-02292-CBD; and SEC v. Bennett, No. 17-02453.