VERNAL — A Utah man and a Georgia man pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering in connection with a real estate investment scheme that setback investors millions of dollars.
Armand Franquelin, 57, of Liberty, Weber County, and Martin Pool, 44, of Atlanta, entered into a plea bargain Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Pool and Franquelin admitted to persuading investors to lend them money for a real estate project in Utah known as "Haven Estates." Instead, the men used investor funds for other purposes.
The men each pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of money laundering in April. As part of the plea deal, they agreed to pay restitution of $9 million to their victims.
As part of Pool's plea deal, prosecutors suggested the court impose a 78-month prison sentence. Franquelin's sentence will be determined at a hearing in August.
Pool and Franquelin used the money they conned from investors for their personal benefit and to make fake interest payments to earlier investors. The payments helped lull the former investors' worries and kept them from removing their funds.
Pool and Franquelin ran their scheme from 2006 to 2010. It took the efforts of multiple agencies to bring the investigation to a close.
Special agents from the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation, the Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Securities and the Alabama Securities Commission all contributed to the investigation.