Leavitt Sentenced To 36 Months In Prison After Convictions For Wire Fraud, Money Laundering In Connection With Fraud Scheme
SALT LAKE CITY -- Ronald Wayne Leavitt, age 61, of Stansbury Park, Utah, who targeted friends, members of his church, and some of their relatives in an affinity fraud scheme, will serve 36 months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer imposed the sentence Friday. Leavitt must pay $519,420.55 in restitution and serve 36 months of supervised release when he finishes his federal prison sentence.
Leavitt pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in March.
In a court document filed as a part of a plea agreement reached in the case, Leavitt acknowledged that he told a variety of lies to friends and neighbors to get them to invest in his schemes. He told some that he owned several limousines while telling others he was the executor of large trust fund and that he owned property worth millions of dollars. He also told some victims he had inherited millions of dollars from his parents. He also told victims that the investment opportunity was limited and, if they were lucky, he could get them a spot in the investment. He told others victims that an investor had pulled out and, although other investors would be upset, he would allow them to invest and make it work.
After gaining their trust, Leavitt admitted he convinced several individuals to invest in one of three different ventures. Leavitt pitched a real estate venture in California, a high-end real estate development venture in Moab called Hidden Mesa, and a sugar substitute start-up company.
According to documents filed as a part of the plea agreement, Leavitt admitted that the real estate venture in California was an investment he fabricated.
The Hidden Mesa real estate development venture was an idea that Leavitt had discussed with an individual who had purchased land in Moab. This individual discussed with Leavitt the possibility of developing the land and talked with Leavitt about seeking investors for the project. However, without this individual’s knowledge, Leavitt used the concept of the venture to pitch the investment opportunity to some of his neighbors and some of their family members, eventually persuading some of them to invest in the venture. He promised them returns as large as 300 percent within 60 to 90 days. Leavitt admitted that once they made an investment in the project, he never provided any of that money to the individual who had purchased the land in Moab.
The sugar substitute start-up company is an actual company that Leavitt’s brother was involved in. Leavitt had talked with his brother and another individual about trying to find investors. As a part of his scheme to defraud, Leavitt admitted he convinced individuals to invest in the company. Once they did, he did not inform the company of their investment or give them the money. Like the other two ventures, Leavitt admitted he kept the funds for himself and spent them.
Leavitt admitted that he spent the majority of the money he took from victims of the fraud schemes rather than investing it in anything.
Special agents of the FBI and members of its Financial Crimes Task Force investigated the case. An IRS Criminal Investigation agent, assigned to the task force, also investigated the case. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City.