Two people have been charged for allegedly developing a Ponzi scheme that pulled in $650 million by soliciting investments from victims under false pretenses, including that the victims were investing in cattle.
A federal grand jury in Colorado charged 69-year-old Reva Joyce Stachniw of Galesburg, Illinois, and 57-year-old Ron Throgmartin of Buford, Georgia, on counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to engage in unlawful money transactions, an indictment unsealed on Tuesday revealed.
Stachniw and Throgmartin had three variations of an investment scheme that they used to solicit money from late 2017 through early 2019, according to court documents.
“Most often, the co-conspirators would fraudulently represent to victim-investors that their investments were backed by short-term investments in cattle,” the indictment read. “They also used false and fraudulent pretenses to solicit money from victim-investors for the co-conspirators’ marijuana business, Universal Herbs LLC, which was based in the District of Colorado.”
“Other victim-investors gave the co-conspirators money based on the co-conspirators’ false promises that investment money would be used for legitimate business activity related to cattle or marijuana, without having the investment money linked to specific investment opportunities,” it added.
Stachniw and Throgmartin purportedly told victims that the investments would receive returns of approximately 10% to 20%.
The indictment implicates co-conspirator Mark Ray, who was charged in February 2020 for his role in the scheme, according to a Justice Department news release.
“At no point did Ray, Stachniw, Throgmartin, or their co-conspirators tell victim-investors that the co-conspirators were primarily using their money to repay other investors in a Ponzi-style investment scheme, or to enrich themselves,” the indictment alleged.
Stachniw's and Throgmartin's charges include one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud each, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to engage in money transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
The two could face a maximum prison term of 30 years and a $1 million fine for the first charge, 20 years and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charges, and 10 years and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy to engage in money transactions charge.
Stachniw and Throgmartin appeared before Judge N. Reid Neureiter of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on Tuesday in their initial court appearance.
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