FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 1998
TDD (202) 514-1888
ALASKA BUSINESSWOMAN PLEADS GUILTY IN AIRLINE TICKET DISCOUNT SCHEME
WASHINGTON, D.C. A Fairbanks, Alaska, businesswoman pleaded guilty today in federal court to a discount airline ticket scheme in which more than 1,100 creditors lost more than $10 million.
Raejean S. Bonham, 48, of Fairbanks, Alaska appeared before Judge Holland of the U.S. District Court of Alaska and entered guilty pleas to mail fraud and money laundering.
Bonham was indicted in October of 1997 for mail fraud and money laundering.
Bonham owned and operated Atlantic Pacific Funding Corporation and World Plus, Inc., a business in Fairbanks selling to the public discounted airline tickets obtained from ticket brokers. Bonham and her businesses were forced into bankruptcy in December of 1995 and more than 1100 creditors have filed claims. According to the bankruptcy trustee the net loss to the investors exceeds $10 million.
The indictment alleges that from about 1989 through 1995, Bonham, as part of a Ponzi or pyramid scheme, and based on false and fraudulent representations, offered and sold to individual investors interest bearing contracts. The indictment alleges that Bonham falsely represented that because World Plus was in the frequent flyer ticket business banks would not lend money to the company creating the need to raise money from individual investors; that the money invested would be used to purchase large blocks of frequent flyer miles from multi national corporations; that the investments were "guaranteed", "bonded", and /or "insured"; and that there were a limited number of investors. The indictment also alleges that Bonham concealed from investors the fact that Delta Airlines had obtained court orders restraining her and World Plus from dealing in Delta tickets; that the State of Alaska regulated the "contracts" she was selling; that a portion of the investment would be used for personal expenses and purchases; and a significant portion of the individual's investment would be used to repay other investors thereby maintaining her Ponzi or pyramid scheme.
Sentencing was set for September 23. Mail fraud has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Money laundering has a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000. Bonham will be sentenced according to the federal sentencing guidelines.
The case is being prosecuted by Joseph S. Beck of the Criminal Division, Fraud Section in Washington, D.C. assisted by Rae Randall of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Alaska. Randall has been appointed a Special Attorney for the Department of Justice. Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.