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Press Release

Container Home Charlatans Sentenced to a Combined 34 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

EL PASO, Texas – Two men were sentenced in a federal court in El Paso Tuesday to 25 years and nine years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering.

According to court documents, Leslie Robert Burk, 55, of El Paso, and Ethan Sturgis Day, 59, of Idyllwild, California, conspired, engaged, and participated in defrauding customers/victims through a business, Atomic Container Homes, Incorporated (ACHI) and other similarly named businesses.  As the principals of ACHI, Burk and Day, using the business website, enticed people into contracts for the manufacture of container homes and other shipping container products, many of which were never delivered and many of which were sub-par.  The two were arrested following an investigation through which the FBI found multiple individuals who, as former clients of Burk and Day believed they had been defrauded.  The investigation revealed that the co-conspirators defrauded at least 41 victims for a combined total of more than $2.5 million.  Several people spent thousands of dollars and never received anything they contracted for.

The two defendants were named in various counts of a 33-count indictment filed in April 2019.  A federal jury convicted Burk and Day on 23 counts and 22 counts, respectively, on June 22, 2022.  At Tuesday’s sentencing hearings, Burk received a sentence of 25 years in federal prison.  Day was sentenced to nine years in prison.  A restitution hearing is currently scheduled for July 11.

“Claiming to own a legitimate business for the sake of defrauding unsuspecting victims is a reprehensible crime and one that my office will continue to prosecute in order to protect our citizens from fraud and financial exploitation,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas.  “This sentencing holds the defendants accountable for their fraudulent scheme while providing restitution to the victims.  I appreciate the efforts of our partners at the FBI for their role in the investigation, ultimately leading to the successful outcome of this case.”

“Out of pure greed, Burk and his co-conspirator, Day, defrauded consumers of a basic and essential product which is providing homes to families. They victimized many hardworking people and businesses, not only from El Paso, but across the nation,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey of the FBI El Paso Field Office. “Their sentencing shows the FBI will not tolerate financial predators living off empty promises for their own personal gain, and we will seek justice for all financial fraud victims, regardless of whether they are located in El Paso or the rest of the country.”

The FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stanley Serwatka prosecuted the case.


Updated May 31, 2023

Financial Fraud