Christian Michael Baker Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on February 3, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, CHRISTIAN MICHAEL BAKER, a 36-year-old resident of Helena, appeared for sentencing. BAKER was sentenced to a term of:
Prison: 24 months
Special Assessment: $100
Supervised Release: 3 years
BAKER was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to wire fraud/investment fraud.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Baker had been in the "business" of raising capital for investment ventures for a number of years. He learned his trade, by his own accord, by "trial and error," having a GED but no college education or professional training.
In 2007, Baker was invited to join a business opportunity by CT. Baker began working with CT and another man, BR, in a business called WEXL Solutions, which Baker understood marketed a variety of products. Baker's family invested $400,000, more or less. Baker and his investors understood that some of the money would be used as "seed" money to get the business operational, but the primary purpose of giving Baker and his partners money was for investment; an investment that would return principal over time, and pay a dividend. Baker and CT used the funds collected from investors to live on and maintain their lifestyle. At some point during 2007, WEXL Solutions became WEXL Financial, a company supposedly marketing "Debt elimination" software. Soon after the creation of WEXL Financial, CJ, the man who had invited Baker to join the enterprise, left the company.
While operating as WEXL Solutions, Baker met a man he believed had been with the Central Intelligence Agency, RJ. RJ told Baker he had many ventures in mind but needed investment capital to get them started. Baker and CJ used some of the investor monies they had solicited and received to invest with RJ. RJ would frequently contact Baker, describe some venture he was working on, and ask for additional funds. For example, RJ told Baker that he needed travel funds to fly to Europe to consummate transactions or purchase investment instruments. Baker never traveled to Europe himself, although on at least one occasion he told an investor in a recorded telephone conversation that he had gone overseas to facilitate projects in which the client's funds had been invested. Baker, when interviewed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, advised that a good deal of the money he had given to RJ had been in cash.
Between 2007 and January of 2010, Baker induced investors to give him more then $3,000,000. No investment ever materialized and about a third of the money was spent to sustain Baker's lifestyle. Some of the three million was used to make "confidence payments" to early investors. Confidence payments are a repayment of some of the funds, usually from proceeds obtained from subsequent investors, to calm nervous victims; using the money to renew their faith that the promises made with regard to their money will ultimately be fulfilled. Baker also assured at least one investor, when pressed, that he had not used any of the money deposited with him for investment, for his own personal use, or his own personal obligations.
Baker used several different bank accounts and various business names (i.e. JCNC, Strategx, and Private Capital Holdings),to facilitate the receipt, deposit, and disposition of money from investors.
When questioned by law enforcement, Baker admitted that - but for a few of the early investors who were aware that he would use some of the money to live on while his investment business got up and running - most people had entrusted him with their money with the understanding that all of the proceeds would be invested, and not used for his personal maintenance or enrichment. He acknowledged, however, that much of the money he collected for investment had been used to pay his mortgage and his second mortgage, for the purchase of a new car, two trucks, and snowmobiles, to make payments on his credit card bills, and as "loans" for incidental living expenses.
Investigation has determined, based upon a review of financial records, interviews and analysis, that Baker took in approximately $3,150,000, returned to investors about $1,086,000, invested about $1,135,000, and converted to his own use and enrichment approximately $925,000.
This office has seen a significant increase in investment fraud cases since the economy's downturn. The old rule of thumb remains the best advice --- if it sounds too good to be true, it is. This office will vigorously prosecute those, like Mr. Baker, who through guile and deceit take the money of their victims to sustain their own unaffordable lifestyle, but recovery of money once taken is difficult. The better outcome is for people to not fall victim in the first place." United States Attorney Michael W. Cotter.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that BAKER will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, BAKER does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.