Wayne Ogden

Convicted con man Wayne Reed Ogden made headlines in the late '90s for bilking 500 investors in a Ponzi scheme. Now a federal grand jury has indicted him, accusing him of another scam.

On Wednesday a federal grand jury returned an indictment against 43-year-old Ogden, charging him with mail fraud and wire fraud.

Ogden has a decadelong history in the justice system. In 1997, he was investigated for a real estate investment scheme in Weber County. In 1998, a jury convicted Ogden of bilking 500 investors, mostly his friends and neighbors, of an estimated $7 million in a Ponzi scheme.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, Ogden was paroled in November 2000 after serving 28 months but was hauled back to prison again on a parole violation in September 2003.

In between that time, Wednesday's federal indictment alleges, Ogden worked to build yet another Ponzi scheme in Salt Lake County, this time setting up two companies: Empire Investment Group and Rocky Mountain Properties.

In January 2002, Ogden began soliciting investors to supposedly purchase a 360-acre parcel of land in Kiowa, Colo., according to the indictment. Given his notoriety in the last scam, the indictment indicates Ogden used the names "Reed Ogden" and "Wayne Reed."

By October 2002, Ogden allegedly had convinced enough investors with promises of returns of 12 percent up to 100 percent on their investments. According to the indictment, Ogden had failed to disclose that quit claim deeds issued to investors as security for their money were pledged to multiple investors.

The indictment states Ogden then transferred millions of dollars from investor accounts and a trust account to his own control to be used for separate business and personal interests. Prosecutors say Ogden did this by submitting fake "investor instructions" to a local title company, which controlled the trust account.

Soon angry investors began to surface, resulting in four lawsuits being filed against him for more than $9 million in missing investor funds. But even after being picked up for a parole violation in 2003, prison records show Ogden was paroled again in June 2005 and brought back for yet another violation in October 2006 for absconding from parole supervision.

During that time, Ogden surfaced in St. George, where he was charged in 5th District Court with fraud for trying to pass a $27,000 bad check.

"Over the years, Wayne Ogden has established himself as an economic threat to the people of Utah. This week's indictment alleges that in some instances, he even tried to hide his true identity from potential investors," said U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman.

Ogden has been back in state custody since October 2006. If convicted in federal court, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

"This alleged scam is yet another good example of an investment opportunity too good to be true. Our office stands committed to rooting out fraud, aggressively prosecuting perpetrators and raising investor vigilance," Tolman said.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com