Friday, November 4, 2011

Convicted Fraudster Marc Jenson Sentenced to prison

Posted By on November 4, 2011, 9:45 AM

The freewheeling-and-dealing days for hard-money lender and convicted fraudster Marc Jenson came to an end Wednesday as 3rd District Judge Robin Reese sentenced him to back-to-back zero-to-five prison terms. That could mean Jenson being incarcerated for as long as 10 years for jilting investors in 2000.---

After a decade of promises and litigation, Jenson’s attorney, Greg Skordas, made a last ditch-attempt for leniency by asking Judge Reese to sentence Jenson to probation, so as to give him the opportunity to pay back investors Morris Ebeling and Michael Bodell the $4.1 million owed to them from bad business investments dating back to 2000.

Jenson settled in 2008 and avoided prison time by agreeing to pay the restitution to the men by May 2011. During that time, however, Jenson had paid not a cent of restitution back to his victims, one of the strongest factors leading to Jenson’s sentence. Besides receiving consecutive zero-to-five sentences for two of his felony securities fraud counts, a third felony count was to be served concurrently and Jenson was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims with interest upon release from prison.

Before his sentencing, Jenson appeared to choke up as he asked the judge for the probation that would allow more time to compensate his victims.

“I’m horrified … that this has come so far,” Jenson said, between long pauses. “But I’d like the chance to make it right. I’m a responsible person and anybody who knows me, knows I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do.”

Michael Bodell was the first victim to speak and to also point out that Jenson said he would pay him back three and a half years ago and that his emotional plea was “the biggest lie of the whole case."

“He says he’s remorseful but talk is cheap,” Bodell said.

Ebeling, a victim who lost $1.5 million in investments from his family business, asked the judge to consider whether, given his inability to pay back the investment in over a decade, he had truly changed. Ebeling blasted Jenson for living an opulent and luxurious lifestyle during the time he was supposed to be paying his victims back.

“Outwardly he has changed,” Ebeling said. “I see him now in his state-issued jumpsuit instead of the thousand-dollar suits and Gucci shoes he used to wear.”

The final blow to Jenson’s case for leniency was brought by Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed, who referred to state evidence that included bank statements showing Jenson’s lavish expenses since 2008 including a sports car worth more than $150,000, an extended stay at a Laguna Beach residence costing $360,000 up front for the rental agreement, followed by a nine-month stay at the Pelican Hills Resort in California costing over $500,000.

Most shocking was the flow of money that seemed to document Jenson receiving as much as $9 million in funds, according to bank statements from between 2008 and 2010.

“That’s nine million in and nine million out,” Reed said. “Jenson paid his employees, his high-priced lawyers and something called Russian Wow Girls, LLC. $300,000 and his victims got nothing.”

Skordas had argued, however, that that restitution would be unlikely to happen if his client were incarcerated.

“I don’t mean this to sound like a threat, but that money is not going to be coming in if Marc is in prison,” Skordas said.

Skordas also argued that Jenson had come close to being able to pay off the victims, but wouldn’t pay them off if he couldn’t do it all at once, arguing incremental compensation would not have alleviated his sentencing.

Judge Reese, however, did not agree.

“I don’t think that [argument] persuades the victims and it doesn’t persuade me,” Reese said before handing down the sentence.

In February, City Weekly reported that during the period Jenson was allegedly trying to make money to pay off his Utah victims, he was apparently making a new victim by allegedly defrauding an Idaho businessman out of $1.2 million.

In Reed’s arguments, he pointed out that not only did Jenson face a civil judgment from the Idaho businessman but that in the past decade had been involved in a number of other civil disputes with individuals from St. George to California.

He also pointed out separate criminal charges the state recently filed against Jenson in a separate case for of fraud against Jenson and his brother Steve Jenson. In August, Marc Jenson was charged with eight second-degree felonies by the state in that case, including for communications fraud, money laundering and other charges.

City Weekly reported also on Jenson’s legal battles relating to that case where Jenson sought to maintain control over the Mt. Holly ski resort near Beaver. Jenson and his partners lost out on the planned upscale ski resort development, which has since been opened up under new ownership as a public resort called Elk Meadows.

In February 2011, City Weekly reported that Jenson had allegedly employed Tim Lawson, a friend and confidant of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, to help him try to settle Jenson’s dispute with the resort’s current owners. Lawson reportedly had even threatened Shane Gadbaw, an Elk Meadows principal, in an April 2009 text message to tell Elk Meadows investors that he knew of criminal complaints in the Attorney General’s Office ready to be filed against the owners.

No such charges were ever filed. When interviewed for the above February 2011 article, Shurtleff denied that Lawson had any insider knowledge on the matter and said he had told Lawson he can’t make such representations.

Shurtleff also met with Jenson after accompanying Lawson on a trip to California in the summer of 2009. At a dinner meeting and rendezvous at an LDS Church service meeting, Jenson offered to fundraise for Shurtleff, who was campaigning for the Senate at the time.

In the above article, Shurtleff said he refused the offer since Jenson was still facing legal action from his office.

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