Man Pleads Guilty to Swindling Millions from Investors in Golf Course Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 12, 2014|
RENO, NV—A man who fraudulently convinced 11 persons to loan him a total of $3.6 million for the purchase of a golf course near Gardnerville, Nevada, pleaded guilty today to 24 federal felony charges, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Scott H. Summerhays, 55, formerly of the South Lake Tahoe area, but currently in custody in Reno, pleaded guilty during the first day of trial to 14 counts of wire fraud, seven counts of money laundering, two counts of identity theft, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Summerhays, who was indicted in February 2012, faces over 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5.7 million and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. by U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks.
“This is the second person to be convicted or sentenced of federal investment fraud charges in the northern Nevada area this week,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “In both cases, the defendants led their victims to believe that they were legitimate businessmen and used fraudulent documents to support their scheme. If you are considering a financial arrangement with someone, be sure to check the veracity of any documents they provide you, as fraudulent documents are common and easy to create.”
According to the court records, during 2008 to 2010, Summerhays represented to potential investors that he was purchasing the Genoa Lakes Golf Club located west of Gardnerville, Nevada, for $17 million and needed a short-term loan to complete the deal because his own money was tied up in a trust. Summerhays also represented to the potential investors that he solicited funds for oil and gas investments in Texas and owned more than $30 million in Berkshire, Las Vegas Sands, and MGM stocks. Summerhays showed some of the investors a fraudulent investment account statement. Summerhays also claimed that he was in partnership with Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Aldelson and showed potential investors a partnership agreement containing the forged signature of Adelson. In reality, Summerhays had no investment portfolio, and Adelson never heard of Summerhays or had any partnerships with him. Using this scheme, Summerhays was able to convince 11 persons to loan him money for the golf course, totaling approximately $3.6 million. None of the investors were repaid, and they lost all of the money they loaned Summerhays.
The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald C. Rachow and Megan Rachow.
This case was handled in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.