Missoula Man Gets Eight Years for Bakken Construction Fraud
MISSOULA—Jonathan Lee Oliver, a 41-year-old Missoula resident, was sentenced to 100 months in prison for diverting money he received from customers in eastern Montana, North Dakota, and other places, and using the money to buy himself a house, several vehicles, two jet skis, a luxury motor home, a diamond engagement ring, and various other items.
On February 25, 2014, Oliver pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and structuring. In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Timothy J. Racicot, the government told the court that in the Fall of 2010, Oliver rented an office and warehouse space and began conducting business under the fake name of Jon Walker. He solicited payments from several victims for the construction of steel buildings, primarily in eastern Montana and North Dakota, including in the area known as the Bakken. He entered into contracts with the victims, received millions of dollars in advance payments, and completed only one steel building. Rather than build the structures, Oliver used a substantial amount of the victims’ money to buy personal assets, including a down payment on a house, several vehicles, two jet skis, a luxury motor home, a diamond engagement ring, and various other items. On multiple occasions, Oliver directed his employees to tell victims that a certain phase of the construction of their building was completed in order to induce the victims to send additional installment payments, when in fact the phase had not been completed and Oliver’s business lacked the materials necessary to complete the project because so many of the funds had been diverted by Oliver for personal expenditures.
The counts that Oliver pleaded to involve money he took from a victim totaling over $130,000 and Oliver’s purchase of a brand-new Subaru Tribeca Limited for $33,950. Oliver also pleaded guilty to withdrawing $9,950 in cash from the bank to avoid the bank’s currency transaction reporting requirements.
“The Bakken is a ripe environment for fraudulent activity and Jonathan Lee Oliver saw that. Project Safe Bakken has and will continue to prosecute fraudsters like Oliver, whose greed directly harms citizens seeking to invest and grow their money in legitimate business ventures,” said Michael Cotter, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana.
At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy entered a money judgment against Oliver in the amount of $6,468,186.33. The money judgment represents the forfeiture of substitute assets and corresponds to Oliver’s ill-gotten gains. The judge also sentenced Oliver to three years’ supervised release following his prison sentence.
The prosecution was part of Project Safe Bakken, a cooperative effort between federal and state prosecutors and federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in Montana and North Dakota. The investigation in this case was conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.