Mathon Principals Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms for Operating $166 Million Ponzi Scheme That Targeted LDS Church Members
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 21, 2013|
PHOENIX—On September 30, 2013, three defendants—Duane Hamblin Slade, 42, of Austin, Texas; Guy Andrew Williams, 42, of Mesa, Arizona; and Brent F. Williams, 66, of Mesa, Arizona— were sentenced to lengthy prison terms by U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary, a visiting judge from the Northern District of Ohio, for their roles in operating a $166 million Ponzi scheme that targeted members of their church. Slade was sentenced to 180 months (15 years), Guy Williams was sentenced to 150 months (12.5 years), and Brent Williams was sentenced to 90 months (7.5 years). In addition, Slade was also sentenced to a concurrent 15-year sentence for his participation in a separate fraud scheme, initiated after the cessation of the previous scheme, in which he solicited more money from fellow church members under false pretenses.
U.S. Attorney John Leonardo stated, “This case involves one of the largest, most sophisticated fraud schemes in Arizona history. The defendants bilked hundreds of victims into investing over $166 million into a Ponzi scheme over a period of several years. They preyed on the religious bonds they shared with many of their investors and siphoned millions of dollars out of Mathon through excessive fees and a complicated web of side deals involving companies they secretly owned or controlled. The stiff sentences imposed by Judge Zouhary appropriately hold the defendants accountable for their crimes and send a strong message to others who would engage in such misconduct.”
“Our agency hopes these lengthy prison sentences will deter others from defrauding unsuspecting investors in the future. This scheme serves as an unfortunate reminder that all investors should exercise extreme caution before trusting someone with their hard-earned money,” said Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Office of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.
“Postal Inspectors will continue to partner with fellow law enforcement agencies to bring to justice those who use the mail to perpetuate fraud,” said Terry Donnelly, Acting Phoenix Division Postal Inspector in Charge. “The United States Postal Inspection Service remains dedicated to our mission to enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal use and ensure public trust in the mail.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas G. Price, Phoenix Division, stated, “When individuals take advantage and defraud legitimate investors for their own financial gain it erodes the public’s trust. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding those accountable who intentionally defraud hard working Americans.”
Slade was convicted of both offenses via guilty plea in June 2013, and the Williamses were convicted following a two-week trial in June 2013. According to the evidence at trial, the defendants served as founders and/or officers of a group of Mesa, Arizona-based investment funds known as the “Mathon” entities, which collected more than $166 million in funds from investors from February 2002 until April 2005. The evidence at trial further showed that Mathon’s investors, the majority of whom were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and hailed from Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, were generally told that their money would be used to make short-term loans to third-party borrowers at a high interest rate and that Mathon had an extensive track record of making such loans. In fact, the defendants and their business partners ran Mathon as a Ponzi scheme—that is, by using the overwhelming majority of incoming money from new investors to pay back initial investors. The defendants and their business partners paid themselves extravagant salaries and bonuses exceeding $10 million and also used their investors’ money to make millions of dollars of “loans” to companies they secretly controlled.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Securities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter S. Sexton, Kevin M. Rapp, and Dominic Lanza.