SALT LAKE CITY — A Stansbury Park man who prosecutors say scammed his friends, family members and fellow churchgoers out of a total of $680,000 pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.
Ronald Wayne Leavitt, 61, is expected to serve a three-year prison sentence under the terms of the agreement Wednesday.
He agreed to pay about $520,000 in restitution and already has repaid $160,000 to three fraud victims, according to a Thursday statement from U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber.
"Leavitt admitted at the plea hearing Wednesday that he spent the majority of the money he took from victims of the fraud schemes rather than investing it in anything," the office said.3 comments on this story
Leavitt acknowledged Wednesday that he lied to friends and neighbors to get them to invest in his schemes, telling them he had inherited millions and that there were limited opportunities to invest in a nonexistent California real estate project, a high-end development in Moab called Hidden Mesa, and a sugar-substitute company.
The sugar company was real but the plan he pitched investors was not, federal prosecutors said in the statement, adding that he promised investors 300 percent returns within 90 days.
Leavitt had discussed the Moab development with a property owner but pitched investors without the owner's knowledge and never paid the landowner, the attorney's office said.
He is set to be sentenced June 4 by U.S. District Judge David Nuffer.