A retired Army colonel suspected of defrauding a man and staging a phony suicide in a plane crash has been arrested in Nevada, federal prosecutors said Saturday.
"This case is like a made-for-television detective movie," said William Ryan, assistant U.S. attorney for Utah.Authorities declined to provide details of the arrest of Norman Irick Jackson in Las Vegas.
Jackson, 41, of the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills, faces three counts of wire fraud in a 1987 scheme to bilk his victim out of at least $115,000, according to a federal grand jury indictment.
The fraud dates back to 1985, the indictment said, when Jackson, also known as Norman Irick Johnson, set up an investment account for a fellow Army officer, Joseph P. McGlynn, at a Merrill Lynch brokerage office in Provo.
McGlynn invested in the retirement account, giving Jackson power to handle stock transactions before leaving the United States for a job in Indonesia.
Last May, funds were withdrawn from McGlynn's account for the first time. As part of the scheme, according to the indictment, Jackson obtained a Visa card and a California driver's license in McGlynn's name.
The first withdrawal, which occurred May 12, 1987, involved the transfer of $90,000 from Merrill Lynch's Provo office to its Phoenix branch. That money was then placed in a Phoenix bank and wired to Jackson's California bank.
The next month, prosecutors said, another $20,000 was sent to Merrill Lynch in San Francisco and transferred to a Phoenix bank where the money was withdrawn.
On Aug. 28 two months after Jackson retired from the Army he rented a private plane in Van Nuys, Calif., and told his wife he was "going to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean," the indictment said.
The plane never returned to Van Nuys and, following a two-week search, the California Civil Air Patrol said it was believed Jackson "crashed into the ocean and died," investigators said.
But on Sept. 4, another $5,000 was withdrawn from McGlynn's account through the Merrill Lynch office in Orlando, Fla., the indictment said, and nearly $1,600 was charged to McGlynn's Visa card during that month.
Investigators allege Jackson, using the name Johnson, moved to Las Vegas in November and was working there until his arrest.
"Most of the credit goes to the FBI for being able to follow the paper trail left by the defendant," Ryan said.
If convicted on all three counts, Jackson could be sentenced to up 15 years in a federal prison and fined up to $750,000.