Eleventh Circuit Affirms Convictions and Sentences of Two Men in International Investment Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has affirmed the convictions and sentences of United Kingdom citizens Paul R. Gunter (65, Odessa, Florida; originally of London) and Simon Andrew Odoni (57, Hertfordshire, UK) for their respective roles in an international investment fraud and money laundering scheme. In April 2013, a jury found Gunter and Odoni guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, as well as nineteen counts of mail and wire fraud, and fourteen counts of money laundering. In July 2013, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida sentenced Gunter to 25 years in federal prison and Odoni to 13 years, 4 months in federal prison.
According to the evidence and testimony presented at trial, from at least July 2004 through at least March 13, 2008, Gunter, Odoni, and others engaged in a sophisticated investment fraud and money laundering scheme in which worthless stock in hijacked dormant, publicly-traded companies in the United States was sold to victim-investors, primarily in the United Kingdom. The scheme used boiler room telemarketers, mostly in Spain, who employed high pressure and misleading sales techniques. The victim-investors wired more than $127 million to Gunter's bank accounts in the Middle District of Florida. The conspirators bilked victim-investors out of another $10 million via a FOREX currency trading scheme, which also utilized the boiler rooms in Spain. Gunter, Odoni, and their co-conspirators used the victim-investors' funds to perpetuate the fraudulent scheme and for their own personal enrichment. Victim-investors' funds were used to buy, among other things, an airplane, two vessels, vehicles, including a Ferrari, and real property in the Caribbean islands, England, and Florida.
On appeal, Gunter argued that the district court should have suppressed certain computer evidence and granted his motion for a mistrial. Odoni argued that the district court had lacked personal jurisdiction over him, that the evidence had been insufficient to convict him, that the district court had erred in denying his motion for a new trial, and that his sentence was unreasonable. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected each of these arguments, affirming the district court’s denial of Gunter’s and Odoni’s various motions, finding that the evidence of Odoni’s guilt was “overwhelming,” and concluding that Odoni’s sentence was reasonable. In affirming the denial of Gunter’s suppression motion, the Court found that Gunter had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his computer files when U.S. officials examined them because those files had already been reviewed by British officials during an independent criminal investigation in the United Kingdom.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Tampa, Florida, as well as the U.S. Secret Service, Tampa, Florida and Newark, New Jersey Field Offices. The government also received assistance from several other authorities, including the City of London Police, the UK's Serious Fraud Office and Norfolk Constabulary, the Spanish National Police, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, and the British Columbia Securities Commission. The case was prosecuted in the district court by Assistant United States Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke and Kelley Howard-Allen. The appeal was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Linda Julin McNamara and by Trial Attorney Jenny Ellickson of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Appellate Section.