Two North Texas men sentenced for roles in a $6.4 million diamond investment fraud scheme
DALLAS — Craig Allen Otteson, 65, of McKinney, Texas, and Jay Bruce Heimburger, 59, of Dallas, appeared this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater and were sentenced for their roles in a diamond investment scheme, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Otteson and Heimburger both pleaded guilty in July 2017 to one count of mail fraud. Judge Fitzwater sentenced Otteson to 121 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $4,704,784 in restitution. Heimburger was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $4,707,794 in restitution.
Co-defendant Christopher Arnold Jiongo, 57, of Houston, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 21, 2017.
According to documents filed in the case, Otteson acted as the Managing Member and Chief Compliance Officer of Stonebridge Advisors, LLC, located on Belt Line road in Dallas. Stonebridge Advisors was involved as the Managing Partner of Worldwide Diamond Ventures, L.P., located at 6029 Belt Line in Dallas, and it acted as the General Partner of Worldwide Diamond. Heimburger acted as a Principal Partner of Worldwide Diamond, and he was also listed as the registered agent and Director of JBH Securities, Inc. located on San Rafael in Dallas. JBH Securities was primarily involved in the business of providing investment advice. Worldwide Diamond was primarily involved in the business of buying and reselling diamonds on the international market. On October 1, 2013, Worldwide Diamond filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of Texas.
The indictment charged that Jiongo drafted $50,000 diamond notes which Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger later used as investment vehicles to generate investment funds. As part of their original business plan, Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger represented to American Safe Retirements (ASR) that all investment funds would be used to buy and resell diamonds and that every dollar invested would always be fully secured by the cash and diamond inventory of Worldwide Diamond. Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger all understood that ASR would instruct ASR sales agents to represent to investors that every dollar invested through the diamond notes would always be fully secured by the cash and diamond inventory of Worldwide Diamond.
The indictment also alleged that sometime in the summer of 2011, Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger all realized that their original business plan was not working out as planned and that the defendants therefore could not honor the original promises and representations made to investors. Rather than inform ASR and the investors of the changed circumstances caused by their failed business plan, Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger chose to deceive ASR when they failed to inform ASR that 100% of all investment funds would not be secured by cash and/or the diamond inventory of Worldwide Diamond. By deceiving ASR, Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger knew that they were also causing the investors to be deceived about the use of investor funds.
According to the plea documents signed by Otteson, during the period from February 2012 through March 2013, Otteson and Heimburger engaged in a scheme to defraud investors, and to obtain money and property from these investors by false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. In plea papers filed with the court, Otteson admitted that he and Heimburger engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by fraudulently concealing from investors that investor funds were being used for unauthorized purposes unrelated to the purchase and resale of diamonds. Otteson also admitted that as part of the scheme to defraud investors, Otteson and Heimburger caused their sales agent to fraudulently sell promissory notes valued at $1,280,000 to 23 new clients in California.
The indictment alleged that during the period from 2011 through 2013, Otteson, Heimburger, and Jiongo caused over $6.4 million to be fraudulently collected from 77 Worldwide Diamond investors. During the sentencing hearing, witnesses testified that in June 2011 Otteson and Heimburger caused letters to be sent to the Texas State Securities Board and to ASR which contained false statements.
This case is one of many felony indictments of bankruptcy-related crimes prosecuted as part of the Bankruptcy Fraud Initiative (BFI), United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas. These prosecutions were the result of criminal referrals made by the United States Trustee’s Office in Dallas, Texas. Since 2013, as a result of the BFI, 23 defendants have been convicted and 2 defendants are pending trial.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis prosecuted.
# # #