Federal Jury Finds Corcoran Man Guilty Of Multi-Million Dollar Fraud In The Bakken Oil Fields
Ronald Johnson used stolen investor funds to buy an island on Mink Lake
Acting United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker today announced the conviction of RONALD DAVID JOHNSON, 51, for stealing more than $2.1 million from victims who were hoping to invest successfully in the North Dakota oil boom. JOHNSON, who was charged in a superseding indictment with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, was found guilty on all counts by a federal jury in St. Paul, Minn.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Thompson wrote: “Ron Johnson saw the North Dakota oil boom as an opportunity to steal from people looking to invest in the Bakken. Under the guise of a fake company, Johnson defrauded investors, including a former girlfriend and his own church pastor, out of more than $2 million. Fortunately, after just two hours of deliberation, the jury recognized Johnson for the selfish fraud he committed and convicted him on all counts.”
FBI Minneapolis Division Special Agent in Charge, Richard T. Thornton said, “Mr. Johnson is a classic con-man who lured investors with empty promises of financial gain and false assurances to provide housing to hard working oil workers. In reality, Mr. Johnson stole millions to support his expensive hobbies and line his pockets. The FBI is committed to identifying these types of fraudsters, bringing them to justice, and getting restitution for the victims.” Thornton added that, “The FBI is pleased with the jury’s decision and grateful for their service.”
“The guilty verdict of Ronald Johnson again emphasizes that we and our law enforcement partners will continue our aggressive pursuit of those who defraud and harm investors,” said Hubbard Burgess, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, St. Paul Field Office. “We are proud to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute individuals who attempt to enrich themselves by fraudulent means, and to help put a stop to investment schemes and other types of white collar crime.”
As proven at trial, JOHNSON came up with an investment idea to address the need to house oil workers in the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana. The idea, registered as Indoor RV Parks, LLC (“IRVPK”), would allow oil workers to eschew more common barracks-style housing in favor of comfortable indoor RV parks, specifically large climate-controlled warehouses where oil workers could park their RVs and have access to shared amenities like on-site storage, laundry and vending machines. Johnson promised his investors that as “members” of IRVPK, they would, based on the amount of the investment, receive a percentage of the rental income and other revenue generated by the indoor RV park. As part of his scheme, JOHNSON sent emails and letters to investors designed to lull them into a false sense of security and to postpone complaints regarding delays in the project.
As proven at trial, JOHNSON fraudulently solicited $2.1 million from four investors in IRVPK, telling the investors that their money would be used to build and manage indoor RV parks for oil workers. Instead of using the investor money to purchase land and start construction on the RV parks, JOHNSON used the funds to repay prior investors, fund his personal 51-acre cattle farm, take vacations, buy vintage Chevrolets, and purchase real estate, including a 17-acre island on Mink Lake in Maple Lake, Minn. As of today, IRVPK has not built any indoor RV Parks, has not acquired any property in North Dakota or Montana, and has a bank account that is empty.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS and the FBI.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Langner and Joseph H. Thompson.
RONALD DAVID JOHNSON, 51
Wire fraud, 9 counts
Money laundering, 1 count
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600