Colorado Couple Sentenced In $17 Million Ponzi Scheme
KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A Colorado couple has been sentenced for operating a $17 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors in 13 states and five foreign countries with promises of big returns on investments in diamonds and international notes, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. Prosecutors from Grissom’s office are serving as special counsel on the case, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.
Richard Dalton, 66, Golden, Colo., was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. His wife, Marie Dalton, 61, Golden, Colo., was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison. She pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Restitution will be determined by July 24.
In their pleas, the Daltons admitted that from 2007 through 2010 they operated a company called Universal Consulting Resources, soliciting investors to purchase interests in investment contracts. The Daltons falsely told investors they were guaranteed annual returns ranging from 48 to 120 percent on profits generated from trading in diamonds and international notes. The Daltons falsely claimed that the investments were low risk, that investors’ money could be returned at any time and that the company’s accounts were evaluated by top professionals and licensed third parties. The Daltons falsely claimed the invested funds would be held safely in an escrow account at a bank in the United States.
In fact, Universal Consulting Resources was operated as a classic Ponzi scheme, wherein investor funds were commingled and used to pay out purported profits to early investors to create the false appearance that the investments were performing as promised.
The Daltons used investor funds to pay personal expenses including the purchase of autos, real estate and $35,000 worth of dental work for Richard Dalton. Family members of the Daltons also received substantial payments from the company.
In 2010 when the Daltons learned they were under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, they discontinued making payments to investors. They attempted to deceive investors by claiming payments would be coming soon and inventing reasons for the delays. In November 2010 they left the United States for South Africa, where they remained until they were forced to return to the United States and arrested in Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2011.
The parties agreed that the net loss to the victims caused by the crimes was more than $2.5 million and less than $7 million.
The FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigations and the Securities Exchange Commission investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney served as special counsels to prosecute the case.