Man Who Illegally Possessed Ricin and Unregistered Firearm Silencers in Las Vegas Hotel Room Pleads Guilty
Las Vegas, Nev. – Two salesmen at a local company that fraudulently sold "business opportunities" to own and operate candy vending machines were sentenced today to prison, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson sentenced Gary Van Havermaet, 45, of Henderson, Nevada, to 27 months in prison and Paul Bourassa, 43, of Lowell, Massachusetts, to 33 months in prison. Havermaet and Bourassa were salesmen at Success Vending Group, Inc. ("Success"), which operated a telemarketing sales room in Las Vegas from approximately January 2004 until February 2005. Last week, Senior U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George sentenced another Success salesman, Gary Taylor, 56, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to 20 months in prison. The owner of the business, Patrick Abeyta, Jr., also was scheduled to be sentenced today, but died last week at his home in Polvadera, New Mexico, at age 46. All four defendants, who were charged in 2006, had pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with Success.
According to documents filed in the case, Success and National defrauded 673 individuals from throughout the United States of $7.4 million from 2003 through 2005. Success purported to sell candy vending machines, along with assistance in establishing, maintaining, and operating a vending machine business. The defendants enticed consumers across the United States to buy the candy vending machine business opportunities by providing baseless profit projections; by falsely claiming that excellent locations for the machines were available in the consumer's area; by encouraging potential customers to call fake "references" who pretended to be satisfied Success customers; and by exaggerating the company's longevity.
In 2001, Abeyta, Jr. had been ordered by a federal judge in New Mexico to stop many of the same sales practices in connection with National Vending Consultants, Inc., ("National") a predecessor company based in New Mexico that Abeyta Jr. owned and that in 2004 he morphed into Success.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by Patrick Jasperse and Alan Phelps, Trial Attorneys with the United States Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation in Washington, D.C.