Gainesville man sentenced for defrauding his former brokerage firm clients with “biofuel” scheme
ATLANTA – Winston Wade Turner, a former licensed broker for nationwide financial services firms, has been sentenced for mail fraud.
“Turner pitched a bogus biofuel scheme to former clients he met through reputable brokerage firms where he previously worked,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “He lured his victims into signing ‘corporate notes’ with promises of immediate returns on a profitable biofuel producer which turned out to be only a shell company of his own invention. This case is a reminder that if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.”
“Retirees simply looking for safe and secure returns on their hard earned investments should not have to worry about someone like Turner, who preyed on them for his own greed,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Those individuals who use false promises to capitalize financially at the expense of unsuspecting investors should be aware that the FBI will vigorously pursue them for prosecution.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: beginning in July 2015, Turner represented to investors that he was a broker for “North American BioFuel,” a purported biofuel producer based in Bradenton, Florida. Turner encouraged his victims, former clients from his previous employment at two financial services firms, to move funds he had invested for them, or in some cases, new funds, in North American BioFuel. Turner promised them their ‘loans’ would generate a stream of monthly interest payments and return of the full principal at the end of investment periods ranging from one to three years.
Unknown to his victims, Turner had been fired, lost his broker’s license and been banned from the securities industry. Turner represented the company as specializing in and already producing biofuel, at a time when it was in fact only a shell company consisting of a rented mailbox address and articles of incorporation in Florida. Turner typically made a fraction of the promised interest payments, did not return the principal, and ceased contact with the victims. Turner was found to have bilked investors in the fictitious biofuel firm of $877,188.
Winston Wade Turner, 50, of Jefferson, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story to two years, nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $877,188 in restitution. He was also ordered to forfeit $160,149.52. Turner pleaded guilty to mail fraud on June 5, 2019.
This Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Pearce prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.