Defendant Arrested in Business Loan Fraud Case
LAS VEGAS, NV—A Las Vegas man has been arrested on wire fraud charges for taking hundreds of thousands in fees from persons who thought the payments would help them obtain loans for various business ventures, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada and Laura A. Bucheit, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI for Nevada.
Ronald Gene Morgan, 60, was arrested by FBI agents in Las Vegas on Jan. 29. He is charged in a criminal indictment with 13 counts of wire fraud and criminal forfeiture. Morgan appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach on Jan. 29, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. At a detention hearing today, Morgan was released on a personal recognizance bond pending a March 30 trial date.
“We have been working diligently with our federal, state and local investigative partners to catch and prosecute persons who are committing advance fee fraud crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “The persons who commit these offenses portray themselves as legitimate business persons, when in reality they are nothing more than con artists.”
According to the indictment, from about March 2009 to April 2011, Morgan resided in Las Vegas and operated an Illinois-incorporated company, Argent Asset Management, and a Florida-incorporated company, Argent securities (Argent). Morgan allegedly used numerous means, including the mail, Internet, and telephone to advertise a fraudulent bond-offering program. Morgan promised persons that for an advance fee, he would provide them with business loans by using Argent’s assets to acquire bank bonds at a discount. Morgan told the victims that he would then re-sell the bonds at face value to an investor, generating hundreds of millions of dollars that would be available in funding to them for their various business ventures. As part of the scheme, Morgan required advance fees from victims in amounts as high as $780,000, and told victims that the fees would be held in escrow; would be refunded if loans were not obtained; and would be used solely for purposes relating to obtaining the loan. Morgan knew Argent had no assets and acquired no bonds. Morgan converted the fees he received from the victims to personal uses such as travel and entertainment, and also used them to promote and conceal the scheme to defraud. Morgan continued to solicit and accept victims’ fees while knowingly providing false excuses for funding delays when he knew he had converted victim fees to his own personal use, causing losses to victims of more than 3 million dollars.
If convicted, Morgan faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on all counts.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina M. Brown.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.