FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday - February 22, 2005
ACCOUNTANT PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGES RELATED TO
$15,000,000 MAYFLOWER VENTURE CAPITAL FUND III FRAUD
RALEIGH - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that on Friday, February 18, 2005, TOM D. EILERS pled guilty in federal court after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Raleigh on Thursday, February 17, 2005. EILERS, 72, of Cary, N. C., was one of four individuals associated with Mayflower Venture Capital Fund III, a bankrupt $15,000,000 venture capital company. EILERS pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. He was described in court documents as a C.P.A. who had managed bank accounts and fund records for Mayflower. The indictment included charges of conspiracy, wire and mail fraud, and money laundering related to the use of approximately $15,000,000 collected by FUND III from about 145 investors between February, 2000, and November, 2000.
Also named in the indictment were STANLEY H. VAN ETTEN, 43, of Orlando, Florida (formerly of Raleigh); BRENT E. WOOD, 42, of Cary, N. C.; and DIANE W. PACE, 42, of Cary, N. C. They were all charged in the nine-count indictment with offenses related to the bankrupt Mayflower Venture Capital Fund III, LLC ("FUND III").
According to the indictment, a series of venture capital companies using the name "Mayflower" were established between 1996 and 2000 for the purpose of investing in start-up companies and on-going businesses. All were partially owned, principally controlled by, or otherwise related to STANLEY H. VAN ETTEN. FUND III was specifically established to invest in a planned initial public offering (IPO) by the Durham, N. C., based company named BuildNet. FUND III was managed by a "Management Committee" consisting of defendants PACE, EILERS, and WOOD, and John Brothers and others, and had offices in Raleigh, N. C.; Dallas, Texas; London, England, and Zurich, Switzerland.
The indictment alleges that PACE was an Investment Advisor and Contact Person and managed bank accounts and fund records, and that WOOD was the fund's Lawyer, as well as a member of the Management Committee. The indictment further alleges that VAN ETTEN, although not a named Fund Manager or member of the Management Committee, controlled and directed the use of funds.
According to court documents, the object of the conspiracy was for FUND III to obtain approximately $15,000,000 from investors for investment in the BuildNet IPO. Subsequently, the funds were fraudulently diverted to other unauthorized investments and purposes without the knowledge or consent of the investors. Overt acts included a series of "updates" that the defendants sent to investors between about May, 2000, and November, 2000, wherein they falsely represented to and assured the investors that FUND III money was exclusively reserved for the BuildNet IPO. In fact, the FUND III money had already been used for other purposes without the knowledge or consent of the investors. Court records show that the scheme began to unravel when BuildNet withdrew their IPO, and FUND III was unable to return the investors' money as promised.
This is the third indictment of former International Heritage Incorporated (IHI) Chief Executive Officer STANLEY H. VAN ETTEN. Trials are pending against VAN ETTEN from his involvement in the operation of International Heritage Inc., "IHI," a multi-level marketing company determined to be a pyramid scheme by state and federal regulators. A separate indictment related to insurance and mortgage fraud is also pending trial against VAN ETTEN.
As of this date, five former VAN ETTEN associates have pled guilty to IHI related charges and other matters.
Investigations of the IHI, Mayflower, and other VAN ETTEN- related cases were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division, with the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Atlanta, Georgia. Assistant U. S. Attorneys J. Gaston B. Williams and Clay C. Wheeler are prosecuting the case for the United States.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.