October 8, 2015

Columbia Investment Fraudster Pleads Guilty

COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Robert S. Leben, of Columbia, South Carolina has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Columbia, to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the defendant concocted a scheme that defrauded 11 investors of over three million dollars. The defendant’s scheme promised high rates of returns (8-16 percent) based on a combination of AAA rated U.S. Treasury debt obligations and the commodities markets. Despite these assurances, the defendant stole the money, converted the funds to cash, purchased and furnished a $500,000 house, installed an elaborate backyard pool and landscape costing about $180,000, gave over $100,000 to his sons, went on numerous ski vacations around the country, paid for surgical procedures for his wife, all while also paying for his daily expenses.

Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud is imprisonment for five years and/or a fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Winston Holliday and Jim May of the Columbia office are prosecuting the case.