Utah County businessman Rick Koeber was indicted May 26 on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion resulting from an alleged Ponzi scheme he conducted with numerous investors and several of his businesses including Founders Capital, Franklin Squires Investments and Franklin Squires Companies.
United States Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman announced today the business model was a classic Ponzi scheme that culled approximately $100 million in investor funds—over $50 million of which was used to pay off new investors.
The indictment also alleges investment funds were funneled into a number of personal expenses, including $1 million spent on expensive automobiles as well more than $5 million invested in film production. For tax evasion, Koerber was alleged to have used several of his business entities to cover his personal expenses and failed to pay roughly $250,000 in federal taxes.
A summons has been issued for Koerber to appear in federal court, though a date had not been specified. The ongoing investigation is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Utah Division of Securities.
Tolman and others warned this kind of white-collar crime was becoming all too prevalent in the state, with fraudsters utilizing common bonds of family, party or religion to con unsuspecting investors.
Koerber was not present for the press release. A vocal critic of the Utah Division of Securities, Koerber has since 2007 gone on the offensive against investigators, challenging their investigations and even saying one had “the IQ of a rat” on his radio program the Free Capitalist show formerly on KTKK (K-Talk) 630 AM.
He has also cultivated political friends who have aided him in his crusade against state regulators, including Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman who, City Weekly reported in July 2008, had sponsored an audit of the division on behalf of his friend Koerber.
This political battle was only hinted at during the press conference when Utah Commerce Director Francine Giani expressed her thanks to partnering investigators with the FBI and the IRS as well as giving her thanks to Governor John Huntsman, Jr. and Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, “who encouraged me to go forward with the case no matter the cost,” Giani said.
For more on Koerber visit cityweekly.net and check out “House of Cards,” “White Collar Greed,” “All Bets are Off,” and “Disclose This.”