Ohio man pleads guilty to investment fraud scheme defrauding Pike County investors
COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court here today to orchestrating an investment fraud scheme in Pike County and to failing to remit more than $50,000 that had been withheld from employee paychecks to employee retirement funds.
Robert W. Walton, Jr., 54, of Loveland, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan.
According to court documents, Walton engaged in a scheme to defraud investors of Hadsell Chemical Processing, LLC (HCP) and related entities. Walton was the president of HCP and fraudulently sought investments in the form of promissory notes from dozens of victim investors.
Walton claimed the notes were personally guaranteed by a prominent local business owner when in fact they were not. Walton repeatedly forged the business owner’s signature from 2012 through 2015 without the business owner’s authority on several loan documents and promissory notes.
Walton admitted to falsely representing his company’s future revenues from another business to be in the millions by creating fake invoices. The actual total legitimate business revenue HCP had with that other business was approximately $50,000. He provided the fake invoices to investors. Walton also provided investors with a falsified profit and loss statement, changing HCP’s net income during January to May 2014 from approximately –$800,000 to nearly $395,000.
During part of his employment at HCP, Walton was responsible for approving the remittance of employee retirement funds to an employee benefit plan sponsored by HCP. Walton failed to remit approximately $53,000 withheld from employees’ pay, failing to transfer the funds into employee retirement funds.
The United States is seeking more than $8.6 million in restitution for the victims of the fraud scheme.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and embezzling from an employee benefit plan carries a potential maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. Congress sets the maximum statutory sentence. Sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cincinnati Division; and L. Joe Rivers, Regional Director, United States Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, Cincinnati Regional Office announced the guilty plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Assistant United States Attorney Peter K. Glenn-Applegate is representing the United States in this case.
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