Saratoga Attorney and Co-Conspirator Indicted in Alleged Scheme to Defraud Investors
SAN FRANCISCO—A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted John Jason Gentry Mullins and Bradley Howell in an alleged conspiracy to defraud investors of more than a million dollars, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.
According to the indictment unsealed earlier today, Mullins, 59, of Saratoga, was an attorney with a San Francisco business address and was admitted to practice in California. Mullins and Howell, 31, of Louisville, Ky, allegedly conspired to defraud investors by convincing them that they could obtain financial instruments, such as bank guarantees and standby letters of credit, in return for small down payments. As part of the scheme, Mullins and Howell allegedly told investors that Mullins, a licensed attorney in California, would serve as an escrow agent in these transactions and that after money was wired to them, the two would obtain the financial instruments. The indictment describes several transactions in which Mullins and Howell allegedly convinced investors to wire hundreds of thousands of dollars to the conspirators for the ostensible purpose of obtaining the instruments. Also according to the indictment, rather than establish the escrow accounts, the defendants used the money for personal expenses; for example, on a least two occasions, Mullins used the money to purchase a condominium. Mullins and Howell were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and nine counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. In addition, Mullins is charged with two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.
Mullins made an initial court appearance this morning in San Francisco before United States Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim. He will appear again before Judge Kim for a bond hearing this Thursday, September 24, 2015, at 9:30 a.m., and then before United States District Judge Susan Illston on Friday, October 2, at 11:00 a.m. for further proceedings. Howell made an initial court appearance in Louisville; he will appear in San Francisco before Judge Illston on Friday, October 2, 2015, at 11:00 a.m.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years if convicted of the conspiracy charge or the wire fraud charges. Mullins also faces a maximum term of 10 years’ imprisonment for each count if convicted of engaging in money transactions in property derived from unlawful activity. Additional terms of supervised release, penalties and restitution may be ordered upon conviction. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Talbert with the assistance of Beth Margen and Trina Khadoo. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.