Man Who Used Fictional Company in Reno to Scam Investors Sentenced to 76 Months in Federal Prison
Reno, Nev. - A Reno man who used a fictional company in Reno to scam investors across the country of more than $3 million, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks to 76 months in federal prison, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
JONATHAN R. FIRESTONE, aka BARRY HUNT, age 60, of Reno, was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release following his release from prison, and to pay $2.9 million in restitution. His sentence was increased under the federal sentencing guidelines because the offense involved more than 10 victims. He was also ordered to assist the victims in recovering losses from third parties.
FIRESTONE pleaded guilty on July 8, 2005, to one count of Mail Fraud for criminal acts occurring in Nevada, and one count of Bank Fraud for criminal acts occurring in New Hampshire. He was originally indicted in April 2003, but was a fugitive until December 2004, when he was apprehended in Ocala, Florida, and returned to Reno to answer the charges.
"I am very pleased with the sentence imposed against Mr. Firestone," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. " It is through the concerted and coordinated efforts of our law enforcement agencies and prosecution team that we achieve successful prosecutions against defendants like Jonathan Firestone who defraud investors and take advantage of people."
According to the court records, FIRESTONE claimed to operate a business in Reno named "Tool Search". FIRESTONE operated the business from his residence at 4695 Lakewood Court in Reno, starting in 1996. He advised potential investors that the company bought and sold distressed properties and split any profits with the investors. He also stated that his company was an international distributor of large generators to third world companies.
Beginning in approximately December 1999 and until approximately April 7, 2003, FIRESTONE devised a scheme to defraud investors through the use of mail by sending a false prospectus and telephonically advising them that their original investments were insured. He gave the investors promissory notes, paid them interest on their investments, and encouraged them to recruit others to the program. FIRESTONE told investors that his company purchased liquidated items such as televisions, sewing machines, etc., at a reduced rate from insurance companies and that he sold the items at a profit. He claimed they could make eight to 10 percent profit on their investments. FIRESTONE also provided fictitious letters purportedly prepared from the international Monetary Fund indicating that he had a market for diesel powered light plants.
"Tool Search" never engaged in legitimate business, and the investment monies received by FIRESTONE were used for his personal gain or to pay interest to early investors. It is estimated that based on this scheme, investors sent FIRESTONE in excess of $1,000,000.
In New Hampshire, the defendant, operating as BARRY R. HUNT, established and operated four sole proprietorships, Sports and Marine Liquidation Company, N.M.E. CT Operations, Northern Marine Electronics, and Sports Liquidation Company. From approximately November 1988 to March 3, 1989, in several cities in New Hampshire, he executed a scheme to defraud two federally insured banks by "check kiting." HUNT negotiated checks on an account with insufficient funds and then attempted to cover those checks with worthless checks drawn on another account. During the relevant time period, the defendant deposited more than 75 million dollars into the four accounts, and over 90 percent of the deposits were kited checks. When the four accounts were finally closed, they were collectively overdrawn by more than $1 million.
The case is being investigated by Detectives with the Reno Police Department, Special Agents with the FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ronald C. Rachow of the District of Nevada and Arnold H. Huftalen of the District of New Hampshire.