Las Vegas Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison For Marketing Scam
Las Vegas, Nev. - A Las Vegas man who authored self-wealth books and materials was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for laundering money in connection with a fraudulent marketing scheme that bilked over 50,000 victims out of over $30 million, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
DONALD J. MIKRUT, age 54, of Las Vegas, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben. He pleaded guilty in May to money laundering, admitting that on June 23, 1997, he wire transfered approximately $2.2 million that included fraud proceeds. Judge McKibben also ordered MIKRUT to pay back the approximately $2.2 million as restitution, and prohibited him from engaging in any direct mail or other multi-level marketing activities following his release from prison. MIKRUT is scheduled to self-surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on January 17, 2006, to begin serving his sentence.
DONALD J. MIKRUT and his wife, SUE ANN MIKRUT, age 56, were originally charged with Conspiracy, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, and Aiding and Abetting, for participating in a scheme to defraud persons of fees they paid to American Business -MOREPublications, Inc. (ABP), a marketing company DONALD MIKRUT owned and operated. As part of his fraudulent marketing activities, DONALD MIKRUT wrote a book, "How To Make America Strong & Wealthy One Person At a Time", which he distributed through the mail to hundreds of thousands of persons throughout the United States. In the book, DONALD MIKRUT solicited persons to join a "multi-level marketing" company, Financial Independence Network Limited (FINL).
Beginning in 1995, ABP marketed several money-making "programs," such as "The Thirteenth Check Program" and "Pick Your Monthly Income Program." DONALD MIKRUT advised customers that if they would pay him a one-time "marketing fee" of $60 to $24,000, he would perform their recruiting responsibilities and get other persons to join up. DONALD MIKRUT advised his customers that the more they paid, the more they could earn. DONALD MIKRUT advised that they could earn each month for the rest of their life the amount of the "marketing fee" they paid to him. Customers were also told they could receive full refunds of their marketing fee at any time if they were not satisfied.
Beginning in 1997, DONALD MIKRUT ceased marketing FINL and started marketing two other companies, Secure Independence, and Partners For Life, which sold various health care products and information. MIKRUT promoted these two companies through a 32-page letter and a book entitled "Free Money", and advised customers they would have to pay a monthly subscription to join and could choose to have him do the marketing for them or they could do their own marketing by distributing his "Free Money" book.
According to the court records, DONALD MIKRUT and SUE MIKRUT induced persons to join the companies by making numerous false representations and promises, such as telling customers that they could receive refunds for the all of the monies they had contributed, when the defendants knew that they were incapable of refunding the investments. In 1996, when numerous customers requested refunds, and his company could not meet the guarantee, MIKRUT started advising customers to join other companies that he promoted; to not request refund checks because they were going to miss out on a lot of money; and to invest additional monies in the programs which were in excess of their agreements.
As a result of these activities and misrepresentations, DONALD MIKRUT diverted more than one million dollars from the funds received from their customers for his personal use and benefit. The Indictment alleged that approximately 50,000 persons became victims of the fraud and that they lost more than $30 million. ABP filed for bankruptcy in 1997 and over 4,000 victims filed claims for over $15 million. Judge McKibben ordered MIKRUT to pay the approximately $2.2 million in restitution to the ABP bankruptcy estate.
On September 13, 2005, co-defendant SUE ANN MIKRUT was placed on pretrial diversion for one year and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Russell E. Marsh and Trial Attorney David Bybee of the United States Department of Justice, Fraud Section. The case was previously prosecuted by Sharon Lever, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Nevada, who is now also with the Department of Justice.