WASHINGTON – Julius Everett “Bud” Johnson, of Richmond, Va., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Richmond for his role in an investment scheme resulting in millions of dollars in losses, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride.
Johnson, 62, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge James R. Spencer to one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud and one count of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. For these offenses, he faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000 and mandatory restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for July 19, 2011.
According to court filings, from prior to July 2009 until at least March 2010, Johnson owned and operated several businesses based in Richmond, including Virginia Group Benefits; Mid-Atlantic Insurance; F.I.C. Financial Group, Inc.; Benefit Contractors Administrators Inc.; River City Cleaners LLC; Roberts Awning LLC; Norvell Awning, LLC; MHC Linen Services LLC; The Everett Group; and Living Well. Johnson and a co-conspirator offered investments in the different businesses, generally including a promise of returns of up to 10 percent within one to four years. Johnson and his co-conspirator represented to potential investors that their investment funds would be funneled directly into specific companies, which would generate the returns on investment. Instead, a significant portion of the invested funds were used to repay other investors and to cover operating costs for unrelated businesses.
The statement of facts details two separate transactions where Johnson and his co-conspirator misused investor funds. In the summer of 2009, Johnson experienced shortages in some of his companies. At the same time, he was approached by two investors who demanded a portion of their investments back. With the co-conspirator’s assistance, Johnson obtained additional investor funds that were ultimately used to repay $125,000 to the two investors. In a separate transaction occurring in October 2009, Johnson told his co-conspirator that he needed money to make quarterly interest payments. The co-conspirator successfully solicited an investor for $200,000 in funds that were purportedly intended to be invested in Norvell Awning Company. Although that money was initially deposited in the Norvell Awning bank account, the funds were depleted from that account within four days. In reality, Johnson diverted the money to repay other investors, to cover shortfalls in other companies and to pay a $30,000 commission to Johnson’s co-conspirator.
In connection with his guilty plea, Johnson stipulated that the restitution amount associated with this scheme is approximately $8.92 million. Johnson will be ordered to repay the final restitution amount to his victims at sentencing.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Gill of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Kevin Muhlendorf of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigative Division, the FBI, and the Virginia State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance. The investigation is ongoing.
This prosecution was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.