FUGITIVE CONVICTED FRAUDSTER CAPTURED
Michael R. Rouse, Co-Founder of the Golden Gate Real Estate Investment Trust, Captured by U.S. Marshals Service in Fort Lauderdale, Florida area
DALLAS — Michael R. Rouse, 56, a convicted and sentenced fugitive fraudster who had been on the lam since shortly after his conviction in April 2011, has been located and arrested in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area by deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service. On October 28, 2011, Rouse appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge, in West Palm Beach, Florida, who ordered him returned to the Northern District of Texas (NDTX). The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña and U.S. Marshal Randy Ely, both of the NDTX.
Rouse was convicted by a federal jury on all nine counts of a superseding indictment charging various felony offenses related to his operation of the Golden Gate Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn permitted Rouse to remain free pending sentencing, provided he did not leave the Denton, Collin or Dallas county area.
Documents filed in the case note that approximately one month following his conviction, Rouse requested a modification of his conditions of release to permit him to return to Florida for a surgical procedure by a physician who had previously treated him. Judge Lynn granted this request, however, on June 30, 2011, U.S. Probation reported that Rouse, after undergoing the surgery in Florida, apparently had fled and was a fugitive.
On July 22, 2011, Judge Lynn sentenced Rouse, in absentia, to 210 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.9 million in restitution to the 62 identified victims of his crime. At that sentencing hearing, Judge Lynn established that he had received notice of the sentencing, and that his absence was voluntary. Rule 43(c)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a defendant in a noncapital case waives his right to be present is he is voluntarily absent from sentencing.
Rouse was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, mail fraud and money laundering; two counts of securities fraud and aiding and abetting; five counts of mail fraud; and one count of money laundering. The government presented evidence that, during 2003 and 2004, Rouse and convicted co-conspirator James A. Testa, 61, of Carrollton, Texas, were founders and trustees of the Golden Gate REIT. During that period, Rouse and Testa, acting personally and through brokers, raised more than $2 million from investors by claiming that the REIT was a safe investment in real estate and real estate related assets. In fact, virtually none of the money was ever invested in anything connected with real estate. The only investments Rouse and Testa ever made were in foreign currency trading, and those investments failed completely.
The investors lost most or all of their money, while Testa and Rouse paid themselves handsome salaries and spent the investors’ funds on business and personal expenses, including Mercedes Benz automobiles that cost more than $125,000 each. Testa, who testified for the government at trial, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering in 2009 and was sentenced on August 26, 2011, to 84 months in federal prison and ordered to pay approximately $1.9 million restitution, jointly and severally with Rouse.
The interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established by the President to lead 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. For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.
The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in the Northern District of Texas includes representatives from the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Texas State Securities Board, Texas Attorney General, FDIC Office of Inspector General, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Office of Thrift Supervision, Comptroller of the Currency, Financial Industry Regulator Authority, and National Futures Association.
The case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Texas State Securities Board. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Buie and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne M. Steinmetz prosecuted.
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