Utah Man Faces Sentencing In Non-Existent Wind Farm Fraud
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Utah man faces sentencing Tuesday for his role in a scheme that defrauded investors across the country of $4.3 million by promoting non-existent wind farm projects in Wyoming and South Dakota.
Robert Arthur Reed, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty in May to federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl set sentencing for Reed for Tuesday afternoon.
Each charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to court records.
Federal prosecutors said Reed led a group that hired phone solicitors to cold-call people to invest in the wind farms by falsely claiming the farms were being built by private investors and the U.S. government.
Victims were told they had to make a minimum investment of $25,000, an indictment states. Prosecutors charged that Reed and four co-defendants used personal aliases and the company names of Mountain State Power Group, Mountain State Power and Sovereign Energy Partners in the scheme.
According to court records, Reed and others acquired land near Casper and in Butte County, S.D., to satisfy investors that the projects were moving forward. They put up signs at the South Dakota site and took pictures of contractors they hired to push dirt around to make it appear construction was ongoing, prosecutors said.
“The defendants used these pictures to lull unhappy Mountain State Power/Sovereign investors and entice new victims,” prosecutors wrote.
Lauren Elizabeth Schott, of Morgan, Utah, and Gregory Lee Doss, of Burbank, Calif., pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Joseph Richard Adams, of Los Angeles, and Christopher Ponish, of Panorama City, Calif., pleaded guilty last year to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Federal prosecutors filed papers in court in December laying out what they claimed were significant earlier business dealings in California by Reed and the others. The group solicited investors for companies called SmartWear Technologies and Applied Digital Technologies, whose stated purpose was to develop clothing using radio-frequency technology to allow tracking of children and others.
The California Department of Corporations in 2008 started civil litigation against SmartWear and Applied Digital Technologies, charging that principals were illegally selling securities in the state. The state sanctioned Reed and others for the unlawful sale of securities and ordered them to pay $9 million restitution to defrauded investors, according to state filings.
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