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Press Release

Hamilton man sentenced for defrauding investors of more than $700,000

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

BILLINGS — A Hamilton man who admitted devising a years-long scheme that defrauded investors in Hamilton and Billings of more than $700,000 was sentenced today to five years of probation and ordered to pay $722,808 restitution, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

The defendant, Richard William Brooks, 78, pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, the government recommended a probationary sentence. The government requested an aggressive payment schedule for restitution because of Brooks’ available disposable income.

U.S District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. The court ordered Brooks to pay $722,808 restitution at the rate of $3,000 per month to two victims.

The government alleged in court documents that as far back as 2016, Brooks orchestrated a scheme to defraud individuals of significant sums of money. Contending that he fell “on hard times,” Brooks, often using third parties as intermediaries, claimed that his daughter-in-law was scheduled to receive a large inheritance but for legal and court costs that were required to release it. Brooks deceptively assured multiple victims that if they provided him with money on an expedited timeline, he would return their funds in addition to a premium of between 25 percent and 100 percent. Brooks insisted his victims pay him in cash. When pressed by his victims about non-payment or supporting documentation, Brooks demurred or lied again. He claimed that the inheritance was under seal and that he was unable to provide any documentation. Brooks’ scheme lasted for years, and, in February 2021, law enforcement interviewed Brooks. Brooks contended that he intended to pay back this money, which he never did, and that he was going to receive a settlement in connection to his exposure to Agent Orange. He claimed to have documentation to support his theory that the funds were temporary loans. When law enforcement followed up for the documentation, Brooks ended the communication and never provided any materials to support his position.

One of Brooks’ victims told the court that he lost his business of 10 years and his life savings because of Brooks’ scheme. Another victim told the court that she had been subjected to threatening phone calls, was displaced from her home and forced to sell treasured antiques to survive because of Brooks. “He did more than steal our money. He stole our peace,” the victim said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus prosecuted the case. The FBI conducted the investigation.



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated May 30, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-143