California Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Investors of More Than $550,000
ROCKFORD — A California man pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard to wire fraud. According to the written plea agreement, TRAVIS OLIVER, 39, admitted to defrauding investors by making false representations regarding their investments in Electus Asset Holdings.
In the plea agreement, Oliver admitted that he was the sole managing member of Electus Asset Holdings, and that both he and his co-defendant, TODD C. SMITH, 48, of Rockford, engaged in a scheme between July 15, 2009, and March 2012, to defraud investors. Oliver admitted that he falsely represented to potential investors that their investments would be returned in one year, yielding a guaranteed rate of interest per month, and that the funds could be withdrawn at any time without penalty. Oliver further admitted that he knew a majority of the investors’ funds was used to pay for his own personal expenses and other items, including sales commissions paid to Oliver and Smith.
Oliver further admitted that in order to conceal his scheme and prevent the investors from demanding the return of their investments, he used funds from new investors to pay interest and principal to prior investors in Electus Asset Holdings and in a previous investment Oliver had offered. Oliver admitted that he had mailed monthly statements and IRS forms to investors that falsely stated the investors had earned interest on their investments.
According to the plea agreement, when investors requested the return of their interest and principal, Oliver made false statements and promises to conceal the fact the investors’ money had been spent or lost in high risk investments, including that investors’ checks were going to be issued shortly, that their checks were lost in the mail, and that investors’ funds had been invested in a company whose assets had been frozen by the Federal Trade Commission.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the loss or twice the gain derived from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is set for September 19, 2016, at 9:00 a.m.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Antonio Gómez, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago. The Illinois Secretary of State's Securities Department assisted in the investigation.
As to co-defendant Todd C. Smith, the public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. Smith is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Pedersen.