Manager Of Commodities Fund Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy
SAN JOSE - Rodney Hatfield pleaded guilty in federal court in San Jose today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, United States Attorney MELINDA HAAG announced.
In pleading guilty, Mr. Hatfield admitted that he conspired with his co-defendant to obtain money from investors by means of materially false representations about the value of their investment accounts. Mr. Hatfield admitted that he defrauded members of his own Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Watsonville, California. As part of the conspiracy, he solicited millions of dollars in investment money from his fellow congregants and others to invest in Landmark Trading Company, LLC (“Landmark”), a company he and his co-defendant had set up as a holding company for the purpose of trading in foreign currency exchange.
While Landmark did initially engage in legitimate currency trades on behalf of its investors, the company quickly began to run a negative return on its trading activity. Rather than accurately report this negative trading activity to investors, Hatfield and his co-defendant distributed false reports to investors in e-mails claiming that their trading accounts were profitable and increasing in value. While some investors did receive all or most of their principal back, Hatfield admitted his actions resulted in a net loss to investors of more $1 million but less than $2.5 million.
Mr. Hatfield, age 63, of Salinas, California, was indicted by a federal Grand Jury on December 17, 2009. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, along with nine counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Under the plea agreement, Mr. Hatfield pled guilty to the first count of the Indictment, conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Mr. Hatfield remains free on a secured bond pending sentencing on Monday, June 24, 2013, at 1:30 p.m., before the Honorable Edward J. Davila in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 20 years of imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of gain or loss, whichever is greater, restitution if appropriate, and a special assessment. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Timothy J. Lucey is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen. The prosecution is the result of a multi-year investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Commodities Future Trading Commission and the United States Trustee for the Northern District of California were also instrumental in this investigation.