Ponzi scheme operator swindle family, friends, elderly out of $50 million

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Roberto Heckscher's double life as a meek accountant and high-rolling gambler has collapsed along with a Ponzi scheme authorities say he operated for 30 years.

Heckscher was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month after confessing to bilking family members, friends and mostly elderly investors out of $50 million. Authorities believe it is one of the longest-running Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

Many of his victims lived and worked in the working-class Sunset District neighborhood in San Francisco where Heckscher rented an office above a flower shop.

Many of his victims have lost their homes and retirement nest eggs because of the scam. A judge has set a July 29 hearing to determine how much money Heckscher has left and how it should be distributed.