SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah businessman who unloaded on federal and state authorities after a judge threw out the criminal case against him nearly three years ago again faces charges for alleged investment fraud.
An 18-count indictment filed against Claud R. "Rick" Koerber in U.S. District Court largely mirrors the one Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed in August 2014, citing prosecutors' pattern of widespread and continuous misconduct and Speedy Trial Act violations.
Koerber, 43, is accused of running one of Utah's largest Ponzi schemes. He is charged with four counts of fraud in the offer and sale of securities, 10 counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering and two counts of tax evasion.
"In reinitiating this prosecution, the United States brings a case that the community deserves to have determined on its merits. Our intent is to press this matter to such a resolution," U.S. Attorney John Huber said in a press release. "We seek a speedy public trial, without undue delay, where a jury of his peers can fairly assess the evidence against the defendant."
Prosecutors allege Koerber ran his company, Founders Capital, and related businesses Franklin Squires Investments and Franklin Squires Cos., as a $100 million Ponzi scheme from 2004 to 2008.
More than $50 million of the investor funds were used to make payments to earlier investors, according to the indictment. When Founders Capital stopped making payments in 2007, investors lost about $47 million, prosecutors say.
The indictment alleges that at no time during that five-year period did Founders Capital or Franklin Squires make a yearly profit.
Koerber failed to file a tax return on $600,000 of income in 2005 and $300,000 in 2006, the indictment alleges.
Koeber maintained from the first indictment in 2009 that he defrauded no one but ran a profitable business and was singled out by bureaucrats angered by his radio show, "The Free Capitalist." He blasted federal and state regulators in a news conference after the first case was dismissed, claiming they had defamed him and engaged in misconduct.
Koerber's lawyer, Marcus Mumford, said Huber isn't listening to the judge who gave prosecutors an "exhaustive" number of chances over the past seven years to make their case
"So why is the government issuing another press release, with the same words and allegations as 2009? Maybe it’s ego. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe they’re hoping that by issuing press releases about the mote in another’s eye, everyone will ignore the beam in their own — meaning their own 'pattern of widespread and continuous misconduct.' How else do you explain such tone-deafness?" he said in a text message.
Mumford said the U.S attorney's press release says he’s going to now make sure Koerber gets a speedy trial.
"What I would like to hear from Mr. Huber is how does he propose to give Mr. Koerber a fair trial, given what his agents and prosecutors have done here?" he said.
A summons will be issued to Koerber to appear on the charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The maximum sentence for each securities fraud count is five years in prison. Each wire fraud count carries a 20-year sentence. The money laundering counts, which allege Koerber used to buy $2000,000 cars, have a potential 10-year sentence. The two tax evasion counts carry five-year prison terms.