KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, and Chris Koster, Missouri Attorney General, announced that an Excelsior Springs, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today on charges related to several investment schemes in which at least a dozen victims lost more than $3.5 million.
Daniel Meredith, 51, of Excelsior Springs, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to 11 years in federal prison without parole, which is the longest penalty recommended under the federal sentencing guidelines. The court also ordered Meredith to pay $3,572,526 in restitution to his victims.
On Aug. 7, 2012, Meredith pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and two counts of filing false tax returns. Meredith admitted that he obtained more than $3.5 million by defrauding at least 12 victims in Missouri and Kansas through various schemes through the end of March 2012. His victims were his friends and neighbors. Five of the victims invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and one victim lost millions of dollars. According to court documents, Meredith cheated one victim out of an additional $28,000 several months after confessing his crimes to federal authorities, while he was negotiating his guilty plea. One victim was forced to file for bankruptcy as a result, according to court documents, and an elderly victim’s life savings was decimated, causing his family severe financial hardship.
Meredith’s fraud schemes included a Bolivian land scheme and fake Scooter’s Coffeehouse franchise agreements. Instead of investing their money as promised, he lost it at the blackjack tables at Ameristar and Isle of Capri. He spent the rest on extravagant purchases, including fine horses, lavish trips and a beautiful rental home near Excelsior Springs on acreage with private stables.
Bolivian Land Scheme
Meredith solicited investors beginning in 1995 to collect money for his purported Bolivian land deal. Meredith told prospective investors that his father had been in the CIA in the 1960s and that somehow he had a special opportunity to obtain valuable property in Bolivia. Meredith said his land is comprised of 300,000 acres, including a mansion, an air strip, oil fields, gold mines, and other valuable attributes. He promised investors lavish returns on their investments.
Meredith told elaborate false tales to convince investors to continue giving him money. To keep investors interested, he would tell tales of purported telephone calls with former President Bill Clinton, and he circulated a Photoshopped picture of himself with President George W. Bush. Meredith claimed to know the president of Bolivia and claimed Bolivian citizenship. Meredith claimed he once met with George Bush and that they flew down to Crawford, Texas. He frequently claimed that he was flying out of Whiteman Air Force Base to meet with government officials in Washington, D.C., Crawford and elsewhere. He also provided false excuses why he could not pay their money back.
Meredith went to great lengths to make these stories seem plausible, even paying someone to pose as an NSA agent. Meredith spun tales of a hijacked plane and provided an investor with a locked briefcase purportedly containing a fortune, but actually containing bricks.
Meredith admitted that he defrauded one victim out of $1.87 million and other victims out of an additional $950,000. One of the checks written by an investor in August 2007 was used in part to pay a cabinet-maker who had worked on Meredith’s former home. The cabinet-maker said that Meredith was “throwing around $100 bills.” Meredith gutted the house and rebuilt the inside in extravagant fashion, which included tile floors in the garage with his initials.
From May 15 to June 30, 2007, Meredith solicited money from individuals for investment in purported Scooter’s Coffeehouses when, in actuality, he had no connection with Scooters. Meredith received $90,000 from two victims who believed that they were investing in Scooter’s Coffeehouses. One victim also provided Meredith with an additional $25,000 in cash. Meredith used the money for gambling and other personal expenses. Meredith did not pay these victims back.
Meredith told one of these victims that his father ran the Meredith Publishing Corporation in Des Moines. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office received a letter from the General Counsel of the Meredith Corporation stating: “…a man named Dan Meredith…has on occasion been making representations that he has access to, and perhaps will inherit, the fortune of the Meredith family. He uses this supposed connection to lure others into questionable business deals. The Meredith family obviously is greatly troubled by these false representations and wants them to cease immediately. Dan Meredith’s actions are particularly troublesome to the Meredith family because our research indicates that he has a prior criminal record, including incarceration.”
In 2006 and 2007, Meredith received $510,900 from others under false pretenses. He did not use the money for the purposes intended, and he did not report this income on his tax returns. According to today’s plea agreement, Meredith has an additional tax due and owing for 2006 and 2007 of $139,679.
Although he was required to do so, according to the plea agreement, he did not file returns for 2008 through 2010. During those years, Meredith received at least $1.6 million from the Bolivian land scheme. The total dollar amount Meredith received from his schemes but did not pay taxes on is at least $3.5 million.
Use of Proceeds
Meredith owns multiple horses and spends significantly on horse-related items and activities. For example, Meredith wired $19,550 to Oklahoma in 2010 to purchase three horses.
Meredith had an extensive gambling habit. For 2007 alone, Meredith’s losses tracked at Ameristar Casino totaled $76,454. From 2008 through October 2011, Meredith’s losses totaled an additional $555,863.