California Man Claiming to Be a Billionaire Financier Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Prison in Multimillion-Dollar Fraud Scheme
A California man who falsely told investors that he was a billionaire who could access certain financing, including hundreds of millions in cash in an overseas bank account, in exchange for up-front fees was sentenced today in federal court in Denver, Colorado to 70 months in prison.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Inspector in Charge Craig Goldberg of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Chicago Division and Acting Inspector in Charge Kevin Rho of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Denver Division made the announcement.
Kenneth Brewington, 55, of Corona, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer of the District of Colorado, who also ordered Brewington to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $563,526.78.
Brewington was convicted on May 18, following a two-week jury trial, of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of laundering monetary instruments, and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
According to evidence presented at trial, beginning in approximately 2009, Brewington told victims that he required millions of dollars in supposed fees in order to access his purported extraordinary wealth abroad, which in turn could be used for financing. During the scheme, Brewington and his coconspirators sold promissory notes to victims, including through a financial-services marketing company based in Denver called Compass Financial Solutions (CFS). Brewington and his coconspirators falsely represented to their victims that their money would be used to pay for, among other things, bank transaction fees and tax penalties to the IRS. To conceal the nature of their scheme, Brewington and his coconspirators told victims to wire their funds into an attorney-trust account. The funds from that account, however, were then sent to Brewington and his coconspirators and spent on, among other things, repayments to other investors and personal expenses. Brewington was not, in fact, wealthy and was instead struggling to pay his personal debts, the evidence showed.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Brewington’s victims lost over $3 million to his fraud scheme.
The former CEO of CFS, Brian G. Elrod, 59, of Lakewood, Colorado, and the company’s former corporate counsel, William E. Dawn, 80, of Denver, Colorado, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. Elrod was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,440,051.29. Dawn was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $366,752.01.
The investigation was led by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Trial Attorneys Anna G. Kaminska, Kyle C. Hankey and Jennifer G. Ballantyne and Assistant Chief Henry P. Van Dyck of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Securities and Exchange Commission also provided substantial assistance in this matter.