SALT LAKE CITY — A Kaysville man admitted in federal court Wednesday to a financial fraud scheme that took his friends and fellow church members for $1.5 million over a dozen years.
Robert Glen Mouritsen, 72, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in an agreement with federal prosecutors. He was originally charged with three counts each of wire fraud and money laundering.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for next February. Wire fraud carries up to a 20-year prison sentence. Prosecutors agreed to drop the five other counts and recommend one year in prison as part of the plea deal.
Mouritsen used a position of prominence to induce people to invest in what he called “The Project,” according to the indictment. He is a former stake president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mouritsen told investors the plan involved a series of complicated international transactions that would replace fiat money — legal tender by government decree — with an asset-backed currency system such as the U.S. dollar tied to the value of gold, according to the indictment.
He told people it was expensive to keep moving forward and subject to strict confidential agreements that kept him from disclosing many details.
Mouritsen admitted that he told one victim the investment would be short term and would yield significant returns. When he failed to return the initial investment in time, he told the investor, who put in a total of $33,000, he needed more money to finish the deal. He said he misrepresented to the victim for years that the money would be coming soon.
Another victim, from one of the dismissed counts, gave Mouritsen $326,400.
Mouritsen also told investors the Patriot Act and Homeland Security held up the transaction because the money was overseas.
“The Project” failed to produce any returns in more than a decade, and Mouritsen used a significant portion of investors’ money for personal use, according to the indictment.