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SALT LAKE CITY — Two West Jordan residents admitted Tuesday to federal charges alleging they defrauded hundreds of investors of $140 million.
Wayne LeMar Palmer, 61, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to wire fraud and money laundering. His cousin and co-defendant, Julieann Palmer Martin, admitted to misprision, or deliberately concealing knowledge, of a felony.
A grand jury handed down a 48-count indictment against the two in August 2015.
Palmer and Martin both worked at National Note of Utah, a firm Palmer started in 1992. According to the indictment, Palmer told more than 600 investors that their real estate investments were safe and guaranteed. He also claimed National Note was profitable, generated at least 18 percent returns on investments and was never late paying an investor.
Martin admitted she knew as early as 2010 that National Note was struggling to pay out to investors whose notes had matured, according to a Department of Justice release. As she monitored the company funds and gave daily updates to Palmer, Martin was well aware that rather than turning a profit, National Note was bringing in new investors to pay off others, the release states.
Martin did not notify law enforcement or regulators about the fraud, but instead concealed the company's problems by telling new and old investors that National Note was profitable and issuing timely returns, according to the release.
Many investors, some of whom put up retirement funds, lost all or part of their money, the indictment claims.
Palmer's plea included a stipulated prison sentence of zero to 120 months, according to the release. He also agreed to a $290,000 judgment, while full restitution will be determined at a sentencing hearing Sept. 11.
Under her plea, Martin faces a stipulated prison sentence of zero to 24 months in prison, with restitution to be determined at sentencing, the release states.