Jury Finds Fortney Guilty of Making False Declaration to Court, Lying to FBI Agent in an Effort to Obstruct SEC Case
SALT LAKE CITY – A jury returned a verdict Tuesday evening finding Kevin Carl Fortney, age 55, of Washington, Utah, guilty of making a false declaration before a court of the United States and making a false statement to a federal agent as a part of efforts to obstruct the administration of justice in a Securities and Exchange Commission case pending in federal court.
Fortney and a co-defendant, Roger Stanley Bliss, age 57, of Bountiful, Utah, were charged in an indictment returned in August 2015. Federal prosecutors sought the indictment after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office requesting a criminal perjury and obstruction investigation be opened against Bliss and Fortney. Judge Shelby made the request following an evidentiary hearing in his court where it was proven that Bliss and Fortney violated his order freezing defendant Bliss’ assets and that they had made false declarations to the court to conceal the conduct. Bliss pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and false declaration before a court of the United States in September and was sentenced to a year in federal prison in January.
As a part of his guilty plea, Bliss admitted that he understood that the court had issued an ordering freezing all of his assets and that assets purchased with funds from any bank account in his name were subject to that order. He admitted that he arranged to have a third party to whom he owed money, take control of a 17-foot catamaran sailboat that had been purchased with funds from a bank account in his name and was subject to the court’s order freezing his assets. Bliss admitted he transferred the catamaran so it could be liquidated by the third party and the proceeds used to reduce a debt he owed to the third party. He also admitted submitting a false declaration to the court, under penalty of perjury, as a part of a subsequent hearing. Bliss knew the declaration was not consistent with the facts when he made it, according to a statement made as a part of his guilty plea.
Fortney was convicted this week for his role in assisting Bliss, his brother-in-law, in concealing and selling the catamaran. Fortney, under penalty of perjury before a federal court, signed and submitted a declaration he knew was false saying he owned the catamaran, used the catamaran at Bear Lake and moved his catamaran to St. George. The ownership of the catamaran was material to the contempt proceedings in the SEC action.
His conviction for making a false statement to a federal agent relates to his statement to FBI Special Agent Jason Henrikson that in June or July of 2014 he purchased the catamaran from a salesman in Ogden. Evidence at trial proved he made the statement to the agent knowing it was false.
Sentencing for Fortney is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2016, at 2 p.m. He faces up to five years in federal prison for each of the two counts of conviction.
“Mr. Fortney’s deception is an affront to the integrity of our judicial system. The actions he took to help circumvent the court-imposed asset freeze sought by the SEC further injured investor-victims of Bliss’ fraudulent investment scheme,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today. “Those who attempt to obstruct the work of the court by giving false testimony or who knowingly violate orders of the court will face vigorous prosecution,” Huber said.
Asset freeze orders, like the one violated in the Bliss case, serve to prevent the unfair dissipation of assets and ensure the availability of funds for restitution to victims. “Bliss lacks the resources to repay the investor-victims of his Ponzi scheme. Bliss victimized them yet again by recruiting his brother-in-law, Kevin Fortney, to liquidate Bliss’ catamaran sailboat and then to lie about it to the court and to investigators. Bliss deliberately violated Judge Shelby’s asset freeze order, recruited a co-conspirator to his cause, and then provided false and misleading information to influence the court’s decision on the matter. Bliss circumvented the SEC’s efforts to protect investors,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Strain wrote in a sentencing document filed in the case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Strain and SEC Trial Counsel Amy Oliver, who is a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. The case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI.