Stonington Woman Sentenced to 87 Months in Federal Prison for Role in $1.7 Million Investor Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 01, 2013|
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Maureen Clark, 58, of Stonington, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Warren W. Eginton in Bridgeport to 87 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for her role in an investment fraud scheme that defrauded several individuals out of more than $1.7 million. On July 12, 2012, a jury found Clark guilty of multiple conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering offenses related stemming from the scheme.
“This defendant engaged in a four-year investment fraud and money laundering scheme,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “She told numerous lies to defraud investors of more than $1.7 million and then used the stolen funds for her own purposes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners at the FBI are committed to prosecuting fraudsters who prey on the investing public.”
According to the evidence at trial, Clark and her co-conspirator, Christopher Plummer, holding themselves out as “Authorized Members” of New England Resorts LLC, falsely represented to investors and potential investors that they owned and/or controlled hundreds of acres of land in Lakeshore, Mississippi, a portion of which purportedly was zoned for casinos and residential properties. Clark falsely represented to the investors that she and Plummer would be building a resort community with two million square feet of casino gaming, hotels, condominiums, and a medical facility. They also falsely represented that the partners of the company had invested several hundred million dollars of their own funds in buying land and options on land in and around the town of Lakeshore.
In soliciting funds for the “Lakeshore Development Project,” Clark and Plummer sent e-mails and attachments to victim investors that falsely represented that major Wall Street investment firms had confirmed that they would partner in the project. For instance, in June 2007, Plummer sent an e-mail to an individual stating, in part, that a “take out” situation with a major Wall Street firm would result in a buyout of the property for $1.5 billion. In fact, there was no such “take out” plan. Clark also sent numerous e-mails indicating that she was getting financing from overseas sources. These representations were false.
Evidence at trial further established that Clark solicited investors on lengthy conference calls on which she made numerous misrepresentations for the purpose of acquiring funds. A number of victims also testified at trial that they met with Clark and Plummer at the Lighthouse Inn in New London, were told about the casino project, and were convinced by them to invest their money.
After receiving the funds, Clark and Plummer did not invest the money as represented and instead diverted a significant portion of investors’ funds for their own personal use and benefit, including writing checks to cash, paying the expenses of McGrath Hotels (doing business as the Lighthouse Inn), and making mortgage payments on a property in Stonington.
As a result of this scheme, victim investors suffered losses of approximately $1.7 million.
Clark was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering. She was found not guilty of one count of wire fraud.
On January 26, 2012, Plummer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming both from this scheme and another scheme through which he defrauded a victim-investor of approximately $179,000. On October 15, 2012, he was sentenced to 51 months of imprisonment. Plummer also has forfeited his interest in a 4.35 acre parcel of property in Stonington, an automobile, and funds that have been seized during the investigation.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. McGarry and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.
In December 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several law enforcement and regulatory partners announced the formation of the Connecticut Securities, Commodities, and Investor Fraud Task Force, which is investigating matters relating to insider trading, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, investor fraud, financial statement fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and embezzlement. The task force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Antitrust Division; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; State of Connecticut Department of Banking; Greenwich Police Department and Stamford Police Department.
Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll-free, 855-236-9740 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 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 is 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 more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.