April 30, 2018
Investment Adviser James Polese pled guilty to one count of conspiracy and investment adviser fraud, eight counts of bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft in connection with his diversion of clients' funds for personal investments and expenses. Federal prosecutors had alleged that, in part, Polese and Cornelius Peterson (who has also pled guilty to his role) misappropriated about $100,000 from a client's account to invest in a wind farm project despite the fact that it was not an investment opportunity authorized by their company, and misappropriated another $400,000 from another client's account to back a letter of credit in support of the wind farm project.
William Todd Cutrer owned and operated West Baton Rouge Credit, Inc. ("WBRC"), which made high-interest loans to individual customers. Cutrer obtained over $500,000 in lines of credit from local banks and solicited investments from individuals by guaranteeing he would pay interest and that their funds could be redeemed upon written notice. Cutrer diverted the proceeds to himself and his family members, and made Ponzi-like payments to prior investors who were due interest on their principal. When Cutrer was unable to make further payments he fraudulently stated that an August 2016 flood had inhibited his ability to collect payments on WBRC's high-interest loans. Cutrer pled guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison plus two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $502,035.09 in restitution.
Two Foreign Nationals Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Austin-Based Multi-Million Dollar S.I.R.F. Scheme (DOJ Press Release)
Federal prosecutors alleged that Ibrahim Alu and George Ismail had entered the United States claiming to be Sudanese citizens escaping persecution and requested asylum. Both claims were eventually denied by the Department of Homeland Security because neither Alu or Ismail could establish their identities and their claims were determined to be false. It was determined that the two were Nigerian citizens and, as such, could not be deported back to the Sudan. Amazingly, Alu and Ismail were permitted to remain in the United States and given permission to work here. And work they did! Prosecutors alleged that Alu and Ismail participated in a conspiracy that, in part, operated a cleaning service in the Austin, Texas area -- while cleaning offices (such as medical facilities), the conspirators looted those workplaces of personal identification information, which was then used to file fraudulent tax returns and credit card applications. The intended loss of the fraud conspiracy was approximately $3.9 million dollars. Alu and Ismail pled guilty and were respectively sentenced to eight and seven years in prison and ordered to jointly and severally pay $1,358,489 in restitution. Arrest warrants are still out for Nigerian national co-defendants Dele Akanbi (aka "SK") and George Najomo.
Gainesville man charged with bilking his former brokerage firm clients with biofuel scheme (DOJ Press Release)
Former Metlife Securities Inc. and Prudential employee Winston Wade Turner was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on mail and wire fraud. Turner pled not guilty to charges that he represented to investors (who were former clients) that he was a broker for "North American Bio Fuel," allegedly a biofuel producer that Turner characterized as "up and coming company" and already producing biofuel. During the time of the alleged representations, prosecutors assert that the company was only a shell company. The Indictment alleges that Turner caused, and attempted to cause, wire transfers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims and that he misused investor funds for personal and other corporate purposes.