SALT LAKE CITY — A Highland man was sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison and pay $1,435,913.44 in restitution after pleading guilty to a financial fraud scheme.
Theodore Lamont Hansen, 50, pleaded guilty to money laundering and bank fraud back in May in connection with a financial fraud scheme. He was sentenced Dec. 3 by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Shelby in U.S. District Court.
As a part of a plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Hansen admitted that he devised a scheme to defraud an individual of $1 million using fraudulent promises and omitting material facts.
A victim of the scheme, identified in court documents as E.L., was convinced to give Hansen the money so he could use the funds to purchase full ownership of Seven Peaks Water Park in Provo, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. In exchange for the investment, E.L. was promised 23.5% ownership in the waterpark. Hansen told E.L. he would return the money if the transaction could not be completed within 24 hours.
Hansen never returned the money to E.L. and used the $1 million for things not in line with his representation to E.L. including a $28,000 purchase from RC Automotive, according to the news release.
"Fraudsters are very good at what they do. They are extremely convincing and will work hard to gain your trust. Driven by greed, many re-offend," said Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel of the Salt Lake City FBI in the news release. "The FBI will aggressively investigate these crimes, but we urge the public to do their part too. When considering investment opportunities, do your due diligence and ask some tough, detailed questions about a person's financial history."
The sentencing memorandum notes that Hansen was convicted by the State of Utah for selling unregistered securities and placed on 36 months' probation by Judge Darold J. McDade from Feb. 22, 2016, to Oct. 2017. Judge McDade required Hansen to disclose to any investor, in writing, that he had around $45 million in outstanding miscellaneous judgments against him. Hansen failed to notify E.L. when discussing the $1 million investment, resulting in solicitation charges.
Hansen's bank fraud conviction comes from a large check-kiting scheme involving Bank of the West and Deseret First Credit Union. The scheme involved at least 10 different companies, according to the Department of Justice. Bank of the West was left with a loss of more than $1.6 million. An elderly friend of Hansen helped cover some of the loss, taking the loss amount down to $585,913.44.
"Imagine if Mr. Hansen had broken into Bank of the West and looted over $500,000 from the vault: What sentence would be appropriate in that case? That is in essence what Mr. Hansen did here, only he used deception instead of a crowbar," said the sentencing memorandum.
Hansen's restitution includes $850,000.00 to victim E.L. and $585,913.44 to Wells Fargo Bank/AIG Specialty, resulting in $1,435,913.44.
"It is unfortunate that more victims had to pay such a steep price for this swindler's federal crimes after he ignored the state court's orders in his previous conviction. There are far too many fraudsters in Utah who are truly wolves in sheep's clothing, and Utah investors must be more mindful when parting with their hard-earned savings," U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said in the news release.