Triton President and CEO Kurt Barton Sentenced to Federal Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 04, 2011|
The United States Attorney’s Office announced that in Austin today, 44-year-old Kurt Branham Barton, founder, president, and CEO of Triton Financial, L.L.C., was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for carrying out a Ponzi scheme which victimized more than 300 individuals and resulted in a total estimated loss to investors of over $50 million.
In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Sam Sparks ordered that Barton pay restitution in the amount of $63,707.496.
On August 17, 2011, a federal jury convicted Barton of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements to secure loans from financial institutions, and money laundering, as well as multiple substantive counts including one count of securities fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud, five counts of making a false statement related to the acquisition of loans, and 17 counts of money laundering.
Evidence presented during the eight-day trial revealed that from December 2005 and December 2009, Barton devised a scheme to obtain money from investors under false pretenses. Barton represented to investors, including members of the defendant’s family, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, business leaders, as well as professional football players, that Triton was purchasing properties, businesses and other assets with their funds when, in fact, he was using their money to satisfy the needs of other ventures and the need to pay quarterly dividends or redemptions to prior investors. Testimony also revealed that Barton used prominent former National Football League players and Heisman Trophy winners to solicit and encourage additional investors. To conceal his scheme, Barton presented fabricated and fictitious versions of his E*Trade monthly account statement to financial institutions, commercial lenders and potential investors.
“Mr. Barton’s scheme adversely affected the lives of many investors who trusted him with not only with their money but with their faith also. His reckless actions were driven by greed and selfishness as he continued to seek out more victims to perpetuate the misery to others and supplement his extravagant lifestyle. The other victims in this tragedy are the reputations of the retired National Football League players, who Mr. Barton used to market his company and then recruit more victims for his Ponzi scheme. The FBI warns all investors to highly scrutinize investment opportunities where the return seems extremely high and too good to be true,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson.
IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent in Charge Steve McCollough reminds investors that “they should diligently check out claims of unusually high rates of return like those posed by Barton and DiMeglio before investing. Investors should not blindly follow the advice of any one person, always get a second opinion.”
“Today’s sentence concludes a very trying and devastating time for a great number of investors. The story of this case should be a great reminder to potential investors that the old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’ still holds true. We hope today’s sentence will serve as a deterrent and a warning—those who engage fraud will be prosecuted to greatest extent that the law allows,” stated Texas Securities Commissioner Benette L. Zivley.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation together with the Texas State Securities Board. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Lane and Jennifer Freel prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.