Trotter talks about ties to alleged Ponzi schemer

June 18, 2009 (CHICAGO) David Hernandez disappeared Monday. He is accused of bilking investors out of $11 million in what prosecutors call a Ponzi scheme.

Since leaving his job with the city, Cortez Trotter has run a consulting firm. He worked with David Hernandez since December, but he says the closer he got to the business, the more questions he had. He says he raised those concerns with David Hernandez, but Hernandez denied there was any problem. That was shortly before the feds filed charges and Hernandez disappeared.

It was a solid concept: sports talk radio for the internet, with shows hosted by some well-known Chicago sports broadcasters, like Mike North, a partner in the project, and Chet Coppock. But the man behind it all, David Hernandez, has disappeared and the project, called Chicago Sports Webio, is dead for now.

"Anger is a big commonwealth right now, anger, disgust. And, Monday, life is going to be beautiful. All of our checks were going to be cleared. They're playing basketball with our checks right now," said Chet Coppock, sports broadcaster.

Coppock is one of several alleged victims, employees who never got paid, investors who never got their returns. A lot of people left other positions to work for Webio and are now out of work.

The former head of Chicago's Office of Emergency Communications, Cortez Trotter took Hernandez on as a client for his consulting business but quickly became suspicious.

"There was too much money going out and I couldn't see how this company was making the type of money that was being spent," Trotter said.

The 48-year-old Hernandez spent nearly three years in prison in the late 90's for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors. But his partners and employees at Webio apparently had no idea of his background.

"This guy is one of the great con men in a city with a history of great con men since I've been alive," Choppock said.

Cortez Trotter says he went to the FBI with his suspicions. Hernandez also owes him money.

"You don't want to admit to being gullible like that, but there were a lot of smart people that have been around this guy for a long time and they've been taken, too," said Trotter.

Hernandez has been missing since Monday, but he reportedly called one of his attorneys Wednesday saying he was at a Downers Grove hotel and he is ok. Police are downplaying that report.

Meantime, the feds say there is a nationwide manhunt underway to try to find him.

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