Two Plymouth men sentenced in Ponzi scheme
Jason Beckman and Christopher Pettengill found in connection with Trevor Cook
Two Plymouth men were sentenced Jan. 3 in connection with what officials say was Trevor Cook’s multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 725 people.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Jason Bo-Alan Beckman, 43, of Plymouth, was sentenced to 360 months in federal prison on 17 counts of wire and mail fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of money laundering, two counts of filing a false tax return and one count of tax evasion.
Christopher Pettengill, 56, also of Plymouth, was given 90 months in federal prison on one count of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of money laundering.
Also sentenced was Gerald Joseph Durand, 61, of Faribault, who received 240 months in federal prison.
All three men were ordered to pay more than $155 million in restitution to the victims of the scheme.
During trial it was revealed that between 2005 and 2009 the men were actively involved with Cook in defrauding investors by coercing them to invest money into a foreign currency trading program that they claimed would earn a large return with little or no risk – Oxford Entities Currency Program.
Once investments were made, some received statements suggesting they were receiving returns as promised, and some even received checks.
The statements and checks, however, were false documents produced primarily by Beckman.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, during this time, the defendants, Cook and others received around $194 million in revenue. Only around $109 million of that was actually sent to currency trading firms. About $52 million was paid to investors in the form of lulling payments, payments to initial investors using fresh money from new ones. About $30 million was diverted to fund the business and personal expenses of Cook and the defendants.
While Beckman was participating in the fraud, he was also trying to buy into a minority ownership interest in the Minnesota Wild Hockey Team. Court documents say he lied to the National Hockey League about the ownership of the trading accounts and claimed an extraordinary amount of assets under management.
Beckman and his wife owe more than $1.3 million in federal income taxes for 2008. Beckman also filed false individual tax income returns in 2007 and 2009.
In addition, he caused two life insurance policies of an investor to be sold and stole millions of dollars in proceeds in order to prop up currency trading accounts held in his name, prosecutors said.
United States District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis sentenced the individuals and remarked in sentencing Beckman that he was a central figure in the fraud and that the harm he caused was worse than using a gun because he “used the English language to violate so many.”
Pettengill admitted that he concealed material information from investors concerning the foreign currency program in 2008. He also conducted numerous wire transfers during the course of the conspiracy and used $11,000 of funds from the fraud scheme for a personal credit card payment.
Following the Jan. 3 sentencing, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said, “We are very pleased with today’s sentences. Theses are the types of cases this office will vigorously pursue – cases where defendants prey on vulnerable populations such as the elderly or use special relationships, like those established through faith communities, to commit financial fraud that devastates thousand of people, crushing their dreams of retirement or college for their children.”
Cook was also sentenced to 300 months in federal prison in 2010 for his role in the scam.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, with cooperation from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Perzel and David J. MacLaughlin.
Contact Brian Rosemeyer at email@example.com