St. John, Indiana Man Ordered to Pay Over $5.3 Million In Restitution
For Securities Fraud
HAMMOND- Richard E. Gearhart, age 71, of St. John, Indiana was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon upon his plea of guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud, announced United States Attorney Tina L. Nommay.
Gearhart was sentenced to 60 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay over $5.3 million dollars in restitution that is owed to the victims of his securities fraud scheme.
According to documents in this case, between 2008 and 2013, Gearhart was a licensed insurance agent doing business as Gearhart & Associates in Schererville. He represented himself as experienced in investments and financial services. He was also CEO of Asset Preservation Specialists, Inc. Gearhart and others devised a scheme where they promoted and sold unregistered securities to Gearhart’s insurance clients. He promised them no risk to their initial deposit and a return of 6% to 8% on their investment. He also told them that upon request, their initial investment would be returned within thirty days. Neither Gearhart nor his co-conspirators were licensed to promote or sell the securities.
The victims of Gearhart’s scheme were between 50 and 90 years old when they trusted him with their savings. Instead of investing the money, they used it to repay other investors and for their own personal use. The money was wired from Gearhart’s bank accounts to other investors and to businesses in which Gearhart and co-conspirators held an interest.
To keep the scheme afloat, Gearhart directly or indirectly sent fraudulent financial statements to investors showing gains when none existed. The victims learned that they had lost their savings when Gearhart filed for bankruptcy listing them as creditors rather than investors.
The case was the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Indiana Secretary of State Securities Division in collaboration with the Northern Indiana Region 10 Office of the United States Trustee, Nancy J. Gargula. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Toi Denise Houston and Thomas McGrath.