FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
SEPTEMBER 6, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ELLICOTT CITY ART DEALER SENTENCED TO 6 ½ YEARS
IN INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME
Ordered To Pay Restitution of Over $1.2 Million to Victims of Art Investment Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis sentenced Thomas Hugh Akins, age 52, of Rockville, Maryland, today to 78 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud arising from an art investment scheme, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Davis also ordered that Akins pay restitution of $1.2 million to the investor-victims.
Judge Davis commented, “It is difficult to find much in the way of mitigation or explanation. There is none. The need for specific deterrence is quite extraordinary.”
Three victims testified at the sentencing hearing to having lost their life savings to Akins’ scam. One lost his home of 19 years, another lost the money that had been put aside to care for her 95 year old father-in-law, and the third sold his house when his children left home and invested the proceeds with Akins. He testified that he and his wife now have no prospect of being able to retire.
“As is often the case with investment schemes that sound too good to be true, Mr. Akins’s investment scheme was not true,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Mr. Akins made promises that he knew he couldn’t keep, and he callously took other people’s money and used it for his personal expenses.”
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.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara S. Sale, who prosecuted the case.