News and Press Releases

Man Defrauded investors in Washington and Alaska of more than $120,000

June 5, 2006

DONALD B. HOFF, 67, of Kirkland, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $121,850 in restitution, for Securities Fraud. In sentencing HOFF, U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly told him, “you’ve got at least nine victims... You impacted their lives and have taken their trust.”

According to court records, for about three years beginning in June 2000, HOFF solicited investments in a purported investment fund called DBH Growth Fund and a limited partnership known as DBH Associates. HOFF made significant misrepresentations about the investments including that the investments would generate a return of 18-26% in just a few months. In fact, HOFF used some of the invested funds for his own expenses and to pay off prior investors along the lines of a “Ponzi scheme.” Investors lost more than $120,000.

HOFF used a variety of techniques to lull his investors while perpetuating his scheme. In some instances HOFF forged signatures on documents including that of an investor who was deceased. HOFF wrote numerous checks to investors as a “return on investment” but many of the checks bounced. In some instances HOFF included an unconditional “Personal Guaranty” to repay the invested funds without telling investors his personal financial status would make that impossible. HOFF represented that he was being assisted in his investments by “help of local and former Microsoft people.” When investors started to ask for their money back, HOFF sent emails that appeared to be written by assistants stating that HOFF was unavailable because he was traveling or had health problems. To some, HOFF promised even higher returns if they would wait for their money to be repaid.

At sentencing, Assistant United States Attorney James Lord read some of the statements sent to the court by HOFF’s victims. Many noted that they had been friends of HOFF for decades. A teacher’s aid wrote that HOFF defrauded her after 40 years of friendship. A friend of 30 years said HOFF’s con “destroyed (his) basic trust in people.” Another investor said the money she lost was to pay for her children’s college. Two investors in their 70's said their health had suffered due to the stress of the lost investments. One noted “his greed has destroyed my life.”

Judge Zilly ordered that HOFF report to the U.S. Marshal’s Office today to begin serving his prison term immediately.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The case was being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James M. Lord and Special Assistant United States Attorney Robert Kondrat.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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