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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Authorities say Craig Lee Mecham told his 11 investors he would buy calves, raise and slaughter them, and then sell them for a profit.
After Mecham took about $10,000 from investors in Utah, Salt Lake and Sanpete counties from January to April 2003, Utah County prosecutor Dave Wayment said they did not see any returns -- for a simple reason.
"He didn't buy any cows," Wayment alleged. "He just spent the money."
Mecham, 49, is now charged with 15 counts of securities fraud, tampering with witnesses, theft by extortion and communications fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and at least $75,000 in fines.
He was appointed a public defender when he made his first court appearance Tuesday.
Investigators do not know where the money went, and it's not in his bank account, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Yvette Rice said.
In another alleged scheme, Rice claims Mecham also pre-sold beef. The people did not invest in the raising of the cows but gave Mecham money for beef he said he would deliver.
"The problem is, with both of these schemes, we're never able to establish he had any cattle," Rice said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)