Columbia Falls Woman Admits to Running Ponzi Scheme

Catherine Ann Finberg will plead guilty later this month; serve 10 years in prison

A Columbia Falls woman will admit later this month that she operated a Ponzi scheme that took more than $1.5 million from 28 different investors.

Catherine Ann Finberg is set to appear at a change of plea hearing on Jan. 25 in Flathead County District Court.

According to a plea agreement signed on Dec. 28 and filed in court records last week, Finberg will plead no contest to theft by embezzlement and guilty to operating a pyramid scheme and two counts of fraudulent securities practices, all felonies. Prosecutors have agreed to drop the charge of failure to register as a securities broker.

Prosecutors are expected to recommend that Judge Amy Eddy sentence Finberg to 40 years in the Montana State Prison with 30 years suspended.

Last year, Finberg’s investment accounts were frozen at the request of attorneys with the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance who were investigating the Columbia Falls woman. Although Finberg had not been charged yet, the attorneys believed they had enough evidence of illegal activity and wanted to stop her before she harmed anyone else.

“Given Finberg’s recent and continual activities involving these accounts, failure to freeze them could result in continuing, immediate, and irreparable injury to the investors by depriving them of sources from which to recover their investment funds,” attorneys wrote in an affidavit supporting the restraining order.

A Ponzi scheme involves a person paying investors using money obtained from later investors, rather than from any profits earned.

According to court documents, between 2008 and 2016, Finberg, who has served as an assistant coach for the Columbia Falls High School girls basketball team, took at least $1.5 million from 28 different people, who expected her to invest the funds on their behalf. According to charging documents, at least four of those investors were “vulnerable persons” because of their advanced age and one was mentally disabled.

Last summer, Finberg was charged with five felonies stemming from the Ponzi scheme. She pleaded not guilty to all charges in September.

  • geraldcuvillier

    I would not trust any teacher with a dollar these days.

    • Montana Girl

      Really? Where in this article did it mention that she was a teacher? You are an insulting piece of garbage. I know many teachers that use their own funds to supply classrooms, make sure students have pencils,paper and other items. Perhaps you should spend some time in a school and see what teachers do all day.

      • donho1116

        He is more than garbage, he appears to be the result of incest inbreeding, and it has been a burden for him and his dysfunctional family to try and overcome, but alas, he just does not have the moral or personal courage to overcome his obvious handicap, as he proves each time he finds someone in his household that can type and spell english for his comments here!

  • Fast

    Sad – More and more these criminals in the last few years – Bigfork has been over run with criminals ‼️ Bigfork high kid’s murdering – white collar criminals – burglaries- car thefts- more Sad

  • geraldcuvillier

    I know many teachers that just indoctrinate the students instead of teaching them. The majority of students today cannot do basic math and have very poor reading skills. The teachers union protects these people that just show up to collect their paycheck and retire early.

    • Rhett the Butler

      Sure you do Frenchy.