Former Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services employee admits stealing money from federal aid programs
MISSOULA –A former lawyer who also was a licensed realtor and ran a construction company today admitted charges in which he defrauded investors, losing more than $1 million in the futures market, and filed false income tax returns, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Ronald Dean Lords, 53, of Corvallis, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns. Lords faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the wire fraud charge; 10 years in prison, a $250,00 fine and three years of supervised release on the money laundering charge and three years in prison, a $100,000 fine and one year of supervised release on the false tax returns charge.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. A sentencing date was set for Nov. 10 before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy. Lords was released pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that Lords was a lawyer, who operated Eagles Landing Legal Services, PC, as well as a licensed realtor and general contractor, who operated Eagles Landing Construction, Inc. The construction company purported to develop real property and build homes. From June 2011 and September 2018, in Ravalli County, Lords defrauded several victims by convincing them to invest money in his construction company. Lords told them he would make monthly interest payments, use the money to build homes and repay the money after the homes were sold. Lords said he would return the victims’ money within 30 days of any request.
The government further alleged that instead of using the money to fund construction projects as promised, Lords used a portion of the new money to make interest payments to prior investors and lost the majority of the funds in the futures market. When some victims demanded their principal back, Lords admitted he lost more than $1 million in the futures market and did not have their money.
The government also alleged that Lords failed to declare $432,608 he received from several victims in 2015 as “other income” on his taxes, resulting in unpaid taxes of $152,734 for that year.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and IRS, Criminal Investigation Division.
Clair J. Howard
Public Affairs Officer