Reno Resident Indicted for Investment Fraud Scheme
Las Vegas, Nev. - A Reno resident who allegedly defrauded numerous investors of over two million dollars by selling them stock in a Nevada precious metals company, has been indicted by the United States Grand Jury, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
RONALD V. MARKHAM, age 76, of Reno, is charged with one count of Stock Fraud; 30 counts of Mail Fraud; two counts of Wire Fraud; two counts of Money Laundering; and Criminal Forfeiture. If convicted, he is facing up to 20 years imprisonment and a $5,000,000 fine on the Stock Fraud count, up to 20 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine of the Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud counts; and up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the Money Laundering counts.
According to the Indictment, from approximately October 1999 through March 28, 2003, RONALD V. MARKHAM fraudulently sold persons stock in American Gold Mining Corporation, a Nevada Corporation, by claiming that the corporation was extracting gold and precious metals from a southern Utah mine.
To effect the scheme, MARKHAM published articles in Mount Shasta magazine, touting his experience in locating precious metals, and stating that large amounts of gold and other precious metals existed at a mining site called "Gold Mountain" in southern Utah. MARKHAM also met with prospective investors outside the United States and offered large discounts and returns on their investments, and claimed he built and was operating a precious metals processing plant which could economically extract precious metals from the mine. In fact, MARKHAM did not have a history of successful recovery of gold; did not put a processing plant into operation or have an economical means of extracting precious metals from the mining site; and did not return any monies to the investors. MARKHAM also failed to tell investors that he had no proper permits to drill for precious metals at the site, or that he had been involved in a similar fraudulent scheme in Idaho which resulted in a large civil judgment against him in 2001.
As a result of this scheme, MARKHAM allegedly received over $2.5 million from individuals who invested in it. The Indictment indicates that persons who invested in the defendant's scheme were located in California, Canada, Hawaii, Florida, Utah, New York, Arizona, Montana, Minnesota, and Puerto Rico.
If convicted of the charges, MARKHAM must also forfeit $733,636, proceeds from the sale of property at 3051 Omaopio Road, Kula, Hawaii, and 4325 Castlewood Court, Reno, Nevada; and a money judgment in the amount of $2,500,000.
On February 23, 2004, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint against American Gold Mining Corporation and RONALD V. MARKHAM alleging similar conduct. The civil complaint seeks permanent injunctions and monetary penalties against Markham.
On May 16, 2003, the British Columbia (B.C.) Securities Commission found that RONALD MARKHAM, as the founder and director of American Gold, traded in unregistered securities to B.C. residents, and they barred him and any company which he controlled from trading in B.C.'s capital markets.
An arrest warrant has been issued for RONALD MARKHAM.
Never, ever, make an investment based solely on what you read in a magazine, newsletter, or website, etc., or on what you hear on a television infomercial, especially if the investment involves a small, thinly-traded company that is not well known. Information on how to avoid investment scams is available at www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/cyberfraud.htm. You can also check with your state's securities regulator about any company in which you are considering investing. You can find that information on the North American Securities Administrators Association website: www.nasaa.org.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents with IRS Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald C. Rachow and R. Don Gifford, III.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.