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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


NOVEMBER 13, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


GRANDVIEW MAN SENTENCED TO 22 YEARS IN PRISON FOR

$1.4 MILLION FRAUD AGAINST CHURCH, INDIVIDUALS


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Grandview, Mo., was sentenced in federal court today for a series of fraud schemes that resulted in a total loss of $1.4 million by a Las Vegas, Nev., church and several individual victims.


            Jason E. Branch, Sr., 43, of Grandview, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner this afternoon to 22 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Branch to pay $1.4 million in restitution to his victims.


            On May 4, 2007, a federal jury convicted Branch of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud from Jan. 1, 2003, to March 30, 2005, along with additional counts of mail fraud and money laundering.


            Many of the victims withdrew money from their retirement plans and savings accounts in order to invest in one of Branch’s fraudulent schemes, but received no return on their investments.


            Branch solicited investors through sales seminars in Kansas City, Florida and Georgia, as well as through the Internet and by using independent mortgage or financial brokers to assist in the sale of loan products. Branch solicited potential investors to one or more loan or investment products he offered, depending upon the investor’s willingness and ability to pay. In some instances, large investors were offered the opportunity to obtain sizeable loans after paying advance fees that ranged from $20,000 to $200,000, or were offered investment opportunities with high rates of return. In other instances, smaller investors were offered programs such as Poverty Breakers International, a multi-level marketing program in which each investor paid $100 to $200 to fund an account with INT Gold, an Internet entity.


            In reality, Branch had no source of funding for the promised loans or lines of credit and never intended to provide such loans or lines of credit; in every case, the investment opportunities did not actually exist. Instead, Branch converted the funds provided by investors to his own use.


            Branch transacted business using the name J.E. Capital Group, a business owned by Branch but never formally incorporated.


            Among the victims of the alleged fraud scheme is Greater St. Paul Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas. The church was seeking a $3.75 million loan for new construction when it was referred to Branch and J.E. Capital Group by a real estate broker. Branch agreed to provide the loan and requested a payment of advance loan fees in the amount of $150,000. The church paid the fees, but no loan was ever forthcoming and Branch converted the advance fees to his own use.


            There were also several instances in which individuals in Illinois, Overland Park, Kan., New Jersey and Pennsylvania paid advance loan fees ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 to Branch in order to receive a loan or line of credit. No loan was ever forthcoming, and Branch converted the advance fees to his own use. One of those victims also provided Branch with $200,000 to fund an investment opportunity, but no return on the investment has ever been provided and Branch converted the money to his own use.


            In a previous administrative forfeiture action, the government forfeited a 2005 Chrysler and a 2000 Landrover as proceeds of the scheme.


            This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Curt Bohling. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html