COEUR D’ALENE – Samuel Thomas Geren Jones, 31, of Spokane, was convicted by a federal jury Thursday on 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.
During the seven-day trial, the jury heard evidence that Jones and his co-defendant, Travis Justin Sneed, schemed to defraud a home and property owner in Coeur d'Alene who had entered into an agreement with the men to develop her land into condominiums along the Spokane River.
According to testimony, the homeowner mortgaged her property, and the majority of the almost $600,000 went to Jones and Sneed.
The funds were sent to an out-of-state attorney, who then transferred the money into the defendants' bank account; this allowed Sneed and Jones total control over the loan proceeds.
Sneed and Jones also directed the attorney to make five loan payments, which led the property owner to believe the project was moving forward.
In reality, the bulk of the funds were not used as promised; the land was not developed as Sneed and Jones represented; and within six months, the men had spent loan funds for their own personal benefit.
The jury also heard evidence that while this scheme was occurring, Sneed and Jones developed and ran an internet fraud scheme.
The men advertised on the Internet that they owned computer components and that they were a large government contractor, when in fact they were not. Sneed and Jones represented to consumers that they could sell computer components, when in actuality they failed to comply with contract terms after receiving customers' payments. Three victims of this scheme lost approximately $165,000.
Jones faces up to twenty years in prison on each count of wire fraud, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release. The charge of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.
Co-defendant Sneed, also of Spokane, pled guilty and was sentenced in August 2011 to 63 months in prison for interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises and three counts of wire fraud. He was ordered to pay $732,580.89 in restitution to the victim.
Jones and Sneed were indicted by a federal grand jury on July 20, 2010, in a twenty-two count indictment charging one count of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises and twenty-one counts of wire fraud.
“This jury's verdict sends the strong message that those who bilk trusting investors will be caught and punished,” said Olson. “In these difficult economic times, fraud schemes pose an even greater threat to our communities. I commend the hard and thorough work of FBI Special Agent Bryant Gunnerson, prosecutor Nancy Cook and the many others who brought these two men to justice.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Coeur d'Alene.