(Bloomberg) -- A former GPB Capital Holdings managing director charged in a $1.8 billion Ponzi-like scheme that US prosecutors say defrauded thousands of investors is set to plead guilty, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Jeffrey Lash, of Naples, Florida, was charged in 2021 along with GPB founder and ex-chief executive officer David Gentile and another executive who the US said used the funds to cover shortfalls and enrich themselves instead of securing returns for their customers. 

Some 17,000 investors were affected, about 4,000 of them seniors, according to a related complaint by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. If the allegations bear out, it would be one of the largest such schemes to target individual investors since the massive frauds of Bernard Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford came to light.

Lash, who originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, is scheduled to change his plea Tuesday in a hearing before US Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo in Brooklyn, New York, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a confidential matter. The electronic docket for the case lists a plea hearing but doesn’t provide details. 

Lash’s lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, didn’t immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment on the plea. A spokesperson for Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Gentile faces as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges, including securities fraud, as well as a fine of as much as $5 million. Jeffrey Schneider, of Austin, Texas, the owner of GPB’s placement agent Ascendant Capital, was also charged.

GPB used the funds to subsidize private planes and luxury travel for the three executives, according to a separate lawsuit filed in 2021 by New York Attorney General Letitia James, one of several state AGs to file suit. Payments went to their personal bank accounts and to family members, and Gentile even purchased a Ferrari with the money, James alleged. She put the fraud at more than $700 million.

US District Judge Diane Gujarati, who has been overseeing the case, had scheduled a trial for all three defendants to begin on June 3, 2024. In February, she rejected a defense argument challenging the size of the fraud.

The case is US v. Gentile, 21-cr-054, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). 

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