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Man gets prison sentence for investment scam



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A Farmington man was sentenced today for swindling $6-million from 60 investors. Phillip Jessee pleaded guilty to securities fraud, but he tried hard to get out of going to prison.

At his sentencing, Jessee offered one last sales pitch. "Over the past eight weeks I've earned nearly $20,000," he said. He told the judge he'll invest the money in a land deal, supposedly cash in, and start paying his victims. "The estimated profits, assuming the appraisal comes back, are in excess of $400,000 on that project alone," he said.

Judge Sheila McCleve responded saying, "In less than a year you're gonna make $400,000 on some real estate that you put $20,000 down on?"

One of Jessee's former investors, Darlene Odenwalder, said of the judge, "She was very wise, she could see right through him."

The judge ordered Jessee to pay $6.2 million in restitution plus serve two concurrent terms of one to 15 years. It was music to Darlene Odenwalder's ears. "She made a statement; she listened to the victims," she said.

Odenwalder was one of the 60 victims. She invested with Phillip Jessee in early 2004. He said her money was secured in real estate and she could make 17-19 percent on it. It wasn't true, but by the time she became suspicious, she couldn't get her money back.

Odenwalder won't say how much money she lost, but it was enough that it changed her life. "I'm still working. I had hoped to be retired. We ended up not being able to help our son through law school as much as we wanted to," she said.

Had Odenwalder simply called the securities division, she would have discovered that Phillip Jessee's securities license expired two years before she invested with him.

Officials with the Division of Securities say if an offer sounds too good to be true, check it out first. A phone call to the securities division can tell you if an investment promoter is licensed or if a security is registered with the state.

E-mail: gkennedy@ksl.com

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