The Federal Trade Commission has filed contempt charges against an attorney for refusing to fork over fees he was paid by the operators of an illegal Ponzi scheme.

The lawyer, solo practitioner Jeffrey Benice of Costa Mesa, Calif., was ordered in March 2009 to turn over $238,300 to the FTC by a federal judge in Nevada. The court also imposed an $18.9 million judgment on Benice’s clients for running a fraudulent “Internet kiosk” business in violation of the FTC Act and the agency’s franchising rule.

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