HUSBAND AND WIFE INDICTED FOR FRAUD RELATED TO CREDIT CARD DEBT CONSOLIDATION COMPANY THEY RAN
Trial Set for This Month in Dallas
DALLAS — U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor has set a trial date of January 28, 2011, for a husband and wife accused of fraud in connection with a debt consolidation company they ran, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. A federal grand jury returned an indictment last month charging Christopher Robin Stanton, 44, and his wife, Hyla Leah Stanton, 35, of Phoenix, Arizona, each with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. They appeared on December 20, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renée Harris Toliver in Dallas and entered not-guilty pleas.
According to the indictment, the Stantons established and operated a credit card debt management company first known as Jubilee American Financial, Inc., and later known as Miracle Management Group, Inc. and Risk Management Partners, Ltd. The Stantons leased offices on North MacArthur in Irving, Texas, and in Carson City, Nevada, which they used as mail drops. They operated their fraudulent scheme from a leased office in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Stantons fraudulently represented to their clients that if they entered into an agreement with the company, paid certain up-front fees and authorized their banks to make automatic monthly payments to Jubilee and its successors, the funds they paid would be held by the management company in personal trust accounts set up for them and used to pay down their credit card debt. The management company also promised to negotiate with the customers’ credit card companies to reduce their credit card balances.
The Stantons, however, defrauded their customers by using their customers’ funds for their own personal and business expenses. In fact, the customer funds that were held in one commingled account, which was not a trust or escrow account as promised by the defendants, were withdrawn by the Stantons, often on a daily basis, and used for their personal expenses, including vacations and other entertainment, shopping, medical bills, car payments, mortgage payments, and rent for Killer Kustoms, Inc., another business the Stantons owned and operated. The Stantons closed their debt consolidation business in 2006.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Mark Penley and David Jarvis are in charge of the prosecution.
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