Prosecutor: Accused Lindon con man Jeffrey Mowen used Morse code to order murders

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 3 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — New details have emerged in federal court about the alleged plan by a Lindon man to have four of his former investors killed.

Jeffrey Lane Mowen appeared Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner, seeking a release from custody pending his trial on charges of wire fraud, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness.

But federal prosecutors told Warner that while Mowen was in the Davis County Jail, he attempted to have four former investors murdered by a white supremacist to prevent them from testifying against him, according to Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah.

Prosecutors claim that in one instance, Mowen used Morse code to dictate a letter to a fellow inmate ordering the slayings. The inmate taking the dictation was working with authorities. He was wearing a recording device that captured Mowen tapping out the hit list, prosecutors said.

Based on the information, Warner denied Mowen's request for pretrial release.

"The judge found him to be a danger to the community," Rydalch said, noting that Warner had already determined that Mowen was a flight risk during his initial detention hearing.

"Those are the two prongs in federal court," she said, "if they're found (to be) a danger to the community or a flight risk, then they remain in custody pending resolution of the case."

During Tuesday's hearing, Mowen, 47, also sought to prevent the U.S. Marshals Service from auctioning off a collection of 210 exotic cars, motorcycles and boats that prosecutors allege were purchased with ill-gotten funds from a fraudulent investment scheme.

In court papers, the marshals service said storing the massive motor menagerie was costing $21,000 a month. Two auctions had been scheduled for January but were postponed after Mowen filed an objection in court.

On Tuesday, Warner ruled that the auctions will take place once he signs a new order that Rydalch described as a "road map" for the sales. A date for the auctions has not been set, and Warner said he will allow Mowen to raise additional objections to the sales.

Authorities say Mowen represented himself as a successful trader in foreign currency and swindled investors out of about $18 million. They say he used the vehicles bound for auction — which include a 1925 Ford Model T Speedster, a 1956 Austin Healey convertible, a 1970 Pontiac GTO and a 1971 De Tomaso Pantera GTS coupe — to perpetrate the fraud.

e-mail: gliesik@desnews.com TWITTER: GeoffLiesik

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