Australian National Sentenced For His Role In International Fraud Scheme
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge William F. Jung has sentenced Baron Matson (45, Brisbane, Australia) to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. As part of his sentence, the court also ordered Matson to pay $4,319,762 in restitution and entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $1,285,000, which represented proceeds of the charged criminal conduct. Matson had pleaded guilty on August 23, 2022.
According to court documents, from approximately fall of 1999 and continuing through early 2000, conspirators Roger Matson, Baron Matson, Gordon Robert Grant, and others, caused a letter proposal to be sent via commercial carrier to persons residing in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and other states. Within that proposal, conspirator Roger Matson was identified as “Roger Bronstein,” a Specialist Computer Programmer, purportedly working on behalf of his company, Ascot Bloodstock, Inc. Roger Matson’s son, Baron Matson, was identified as “Baron Bronstein.” The proposal included multiple fraudulent assertions, including that:
- Roger Bronstein was a self-made multi-millionaire who had discovered a method, referred to as the Professional Race Organizer (the “P.R.O.”) program, through which he earned great sums of money working approximately 10 hours per week;
- Roger Bronstein owned a private villa on St. Martin, in the Caribbean; and
- Roger Bronstein’s business (the business at the core of the proposal) produced a global income in excess of $1 million per year, of generally tax-free income.
The proposal explained that interested investors would receive a fully paid round-trip airline ticket to St. Martin, where they could meet with “Baron Bronstein,” who personally trained all P.R.O. licensees. The proposal claimed that this exchange would allow for the potential investors to familiarize themselves with the P.R.O. and to assess the consistency and international profitability of the P.R.O., as well as provide an opportunity for interested investors to experience firsthand the lifestyle that P.R.O. was (purportedly) providing for Roger and Baron Bronstein.
The solicited persons were initially offered an “opportunity” to participate in the P.R.O. program based upon a cash investment fee of $45,000, $90,000, or $135,000 plus a royalty fee on any profits from the first five years of operation based upon the level of investment. Shortly after the initial investors had accepted the proposal and paid the up-front licensing fee, they were informed by the person they knew as Baron Bronstein that a new program called the Managed Account program had been initiated. It was explained by Baron Bronstein and other conspirators that the Managed Account program would alleviate the task of operating the P.R.O. and increase the investors’ opportunity for returns. The investors were fraudulently led to believe that the Bronsteins would operate the Managed Account program by pooling the investors= funds and managing the wagering process. The investors were also fraudulently assured that the Managed Account program would allow them to collect a return on their investment of approximately seven to nine percent (7B9%) per month. The promised rate of return was generally based upon each investor’s initial royalty fee arrangement. Ultimately, substantially all the investors elected to participate in the Managed Account program. To lull the investors and to encourage future investments, the conspirators prepared and forwarded to the investors monthly statements that fraudulently reflected the promised monthly earnings.
In the early fall of 2000, the investors were presented with yet a new “opportunity” to invest up to $75,000 each, which, they were fraudulently informed by the conspirators, would be used to place wagers on the Melbourne Cup horse race that would potentially earn them an ample return. The investors were ensured by the conspirators, including Baron Bronstein, that the new $75,000 investment would be “guaranteed” and returned to the investors shortly after the race, regardless of the race’s outcome, and that any profits from the Melbourne Cup transaction would be paid out to the investors shortly thereafter. Believing that their earlier investments were profitable, many investors accepted the new proposition and transferred funds to a bank account in Vanuatu maintained by the conspirators. Shortly after the Melbourne Cup horse race, however, Baron Bronstein and the other conspirators vanished, along with investors’ funds, causing a total loss to the investors of approximately $4.3 million.
The three conspirators were charged in a sealed superseding indictment in December 2005. Grant was apprehended in 2008 and pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy later that year. Baron Matson was arrested in Australia in October 2015, where he was living under the name Jah Baz. He was recently extradited to the United States following protracted litigation.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay G. Trezevant and James A. Muench. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance with the defendant’s extradition. The U.S. Marshals Service also provided critical assistance.