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Press Release

Former Owner of Investment Firms Pleads Guilty to $9 Million Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – Sherman Carl Vaughn, 45, of Blackstone, pleaded guilty today to charges related to his role in an investment fraud scheme that caused more than $9 million in losses to over 50 investors.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in 2009, Vaughn and co-conspirator Merrill Robertson, Jr., 36, of Chesterfield, started Cavalier Union Investments, LLC, and Black Bull Wealth management, LLC. From 2009-2016, Vaughn and Robertson solicited individuals to invest money in private investment funds that they managed, as well as distinct investment opportunities that they proposed. Robertson identified potential investors through various contacts; including contacts he developed playing football at Fork Union Military Academy, the University of Virginia, and the National Football League, while Vaughn focused on developing investment opportunities.

According to the statement of facts, Vaughn and Robertson led individuals to believe they were experienced investment advisors, and that they employed other experienced investment advisors to manage their investment funds. For example, Vaughn represented that he was a long-time investor and philanthropist with extensive experience in business and real estate. In fact, Vaughn filed for personal bankruptcy four times, including twice during the time he was soliciting investors for Cavalier.

As a result of this conspiracy, Vaughn and Robertson fraudulently obtained more than $9 million from over 50 investors, spending much of the money on their own personal living expenses, including mortgage and car payments, school tuitions, spa visits, restaurants, department stores, and vacations.

Vaughn faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on December 14. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and Terrence P. McKeown, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after the guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lee Martin is prosecuting the case.

This investigation was initiated based on information received from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:16-cr-111.

Updated September 16, 2016

Financial Fraud