Dearborn, Michigan man indicted for conspiracy, wire, and mail fraud for nearly $4 million refund fraud on U.S. retailers
A 48-year old Renton man who falsely presented himself as a legitimate investment advisor was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to eight years in prison for eight federal felonies, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. RICHARD THOMAS ZIESKE was previously convicted of federal fraud charges for defrauding members of his church and others out of over $1.2 million by posing as an investment advisor. Last February ZIESKE was convicted of a similar scheme to defraud victims he met through a Renton martial arts studio. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said ZIESKE has no respect for the law. “We’re talking about someone who is a serial predator in the financial markets,” the judge said. Turning to ZIESKE he added, “You take people you know and who try to help you, and then you use them in your scheme.”
ZIESKE was convicted of five counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, in 2013, ZIESKE overheard a member of his Renton martial arts studio talking about his 401k account. The victim had been forced to retire and limit his martial arts due to a degenerative neck condition. ZIESKE convinced the victim to allow him to manage more than $95,000 in retirement funds, promising big returns. Instead, ZIESKE used the money to purchase a limited edition Harley Davidson motorcycle, pay for liposuction surgery, and finance a luxury SUV. ZIESKE attempted to recruit other ‘investors,’ and convinced the founder of the martial arts studio to invest $50,000 with him.
In 2005, ZIESKE pleaded guilty to mail fraud, securities fraud and wire fraud for a scheme in which he solicited nearly $2 million from members of his church and others, fraudulently promising big returns on investments. ZIESKE was sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution. The Washington Department of Financial Institutions also entered a cease and desist order against him. The prior conduct caused a brokerage firm to close ZIESKE’s trading account during the more recent scheme after its check revealed ZIESKE’s previous conviction. ZIESKE then opened another brokerage account using the identity of another member of the martial arts studio.
Prosecutors asked that ZIESKE be ordered to pay $84,915 to his victims. Judge Robart will set the restitution amount at a later date. He ordered ZIESKE to be subject to federal supervision for three years following his prison term.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Wilkinson and Michael Dion.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.