FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
MAY 17, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ELLICOTT CITY ART DEALER PLEADS GUILTY
IN INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME
Agrees to Pay Restitution of Over $1.2 Million to Victims of
“Fine Grade Investment Art”Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland - Thomas Hugh Akins, age 52, of Rockville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“As is often the case with investment schemes that sound too good to be true, Mr. Akins’s investment scheme was too good to be true,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “People should exercise caution and seek independent advice before investing money with con artists who promise high rates of return.”
According to the plea agreement, Akins owned and operated the Thomas H. Akins Company, Inc. which traded as Galerie Elan, an art sales gallery located in Ellicott City, Maryland. Between 2002 and April 2006, Akins promoted what he called an “Art Investment Program,” which he marketed to affluent acquaintances as an investment opportunity providing a highly profitable rate of return, usually 24% per annum. Investors loaned money to Akins for the purchase of “fine grade investment art” in exchange for monthly interest-only payments based on the promised 24% return. In fact, Akins did not purchase art for his investors’ portfolios. Instead, he used the investors’ money to make interest payments to previous investors, and to support his gallery and personal lifestyle. In order to deceive the investors into believing that their money was safe, Akins made the promised monthly interest-only payments to them and sent e-mails and other communications describing the supposed status of their investments.
As a result of this scheme, Akins misappropriated over $1.2 million from the investor-victims. As part of his plea agreement, Akins has agreed to pay restitution for the full amount of the victims’ losses.
Akins faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis has scheduled sentencing for September 6, 2007.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara S. Sale, who is prosecuting the case.