LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury this afternoon returned a five-count indictment that accuses a Beverly Hills man – who was completing a sentence in a prior federal fraud case – of soliciting more than $9 million from investors with false claims they were investing in a hemp farm that did not exist.
Mark Roy Anderson, 68, who was living in Beverly Hills while on supervised release after serving a 135-month prison sentence, faces five counts of wire fraud in a case that alleges he tricked investors into providing funding for his company, called Harvest Farm Group, to harvest and process hemp, grown on his farm, into medical grade CBD isolate to be sold for a substantial profit.
Special agents with the FBI arrested Anderson in this case on May 9 after prosecutors filed a criminal complaint outlining a series of actions and false statements that allegedly induced victims to send money to Anderson during the scheme that ran from at least June 2020 to April 2021.
“To induce the victim-investors to invest in Harvest Farm Group, defendant Anderson falsely represented that, through Harvest Farm Group: (i) he owned and operated a hemp farm in Kern County, California; (ii) he had already completed successful and profitable harvests of hemp from the farm; and (iii) he was using his own machinery and equipment to convert the hemp into CBD isolate and/or Delta 8, a psychoactive substance that, like CBD isolate, could be used in consumer products ranging from olive oil to body cream,” according to the indictment, which goes on to allege that none of those claims was true.
Anderson allegedly attempted to maintain a veneer of trustworthiness by taking steps to assure investors Harvest Farms Group was legitimate and he “was not the ‘Mark Roy Anderson’ with multiple prior fraud convictions.” The indictment alleges Anderson “concealed that he had been convicted of multiple federal and state felony crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, grand theft, forgery, preparing false evidence, and money laundering, and concealed that he was still serving a criminal sentence and still on supervised release at the time he was soliciting investments.”
Anderson allegedly used investor money for personal expenses, including more than $650,000 worth of luxury and vintage vehicles, over $400,000 in cash withdrawals, more than $142,000 in retail purchases, and other personal expenses, including more than $1.3 million spent to purchase a residence and surrounding citrus groves in Ojai.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Anderson, who has been ordered held without bond in this case, is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment in United States District Court on May 30.
Each count of wire fraud alleged in the indictment carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI is investigating this case.
Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting the case.
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