FEDERAL JURY FINDS STONINGTON WOMAN GUILTY OF PARTICIPATING IN $1.7 MILLION INVESTOR FRAUD SCHEME
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal jury in Bridgeport today found MAUREEN CLARK, 58, of Stonington, guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering offenses stemming from an investment fraud scheme that defrauded several individuals out of more than $1.7 million.
According to the evidence at trial, CLARK and her co-conspirator, Christopher Plummer, holding themselves out as “Authorized Members” of New England Resorts, LLC, falsely represented to investors and potential investors that they owned and/or controlled hundreds of acres of land in Lakeshore, Miss., a portion of which purportedly was zoned for casinos and residential properties. CLARK falsely represented to the investors that she and Plummer would be building a resort community with two million square feet of casino gaming, hotels, condominiums, and a medical facility. They also falsely represented that the partners of the company had invested several hundred million dollars of their own funds in buying land and options on land in and around the town of Lakeshore.
In soliciting funds for the “Lakeshore Development Project,” CLARK and Plummer sent e-mails and attachments to victim investors that falsely represented that major Wall Street investment firms had confirmed that they would partner in the Project. For instance, in June 2007, Plummer sent an e-mail to an individual stating, in part, that a “take out” situation with a major Wall Street firm would result in a buyout of the property for $1.5 billion. In fact, there was no such “take out” plan. CLARK also sent numerous e-mails indicating that she was getting financing from overseas sources. These representations were false.
Evidence at trial further established that CLARK solicited investors on lengthy conference calls on which she made numerous misrepresentations for the purpose of acquiring funds. A number of victims also testified at trial that they met with CLARK and Plummer at the Lighthouse Inn in New London, were told about the casino project, and were convinced by them to invest their money.
After receiving the funds, CLARK and Plummer did not invest the money as represented and instead diverted a significant portion of investors’ funds for their own personal use and benefit, including writing checks to cash, paying the expenses of McGrath Hotels (doing business as the Lighthouse Inn), and making mortgage payments on a property in Stonington.
As a result of this scheme, victim investors suffered losses of approximately $1.7 million.
The trial before Senior United States District Judge Warren W. Eginton began on June 12, 2012. After deliberating for less than two days, the jury found CLARK guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering.
The jury also found CLARK not guilty of one count of wire fraud.
When she is sentenced, CLARK faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count of conspiracy and wire fraud, and a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each count of money laundering.
On January 26, 2012, Plummer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming both from this scheme and another scheme through which he defrauded a victim-investor of approximately $179,000. As part of his guilty plea, Plummer has agreed to forfeit his interest in a 4.35 acre parcel of property in Stonington, an automobile, and funds that have been seized during the investigation.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. McGarry and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.
The Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force investigates matters relating to insider trading, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, investor fraud, financial statement fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and embezzlement. The Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Antitrust Division; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; State of Connecticut Department of Banking; Greenwich Police Department and Stamford Police Department.
Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll free, 855-236-9740, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This case was brought in coordination with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to wage an aggressive and coordinated 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.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
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