Samuel Thomas Geren Jones, 32, Spokane, Washington, was sentenced in federal court in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Jones was convicted by a federal jury in July 2012 on 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Jones to pay $366,290.45 in restitution. Jones will be required to pay a special assessment on each count for a total of $2,000.
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 money—almost $600,000—went to Jones and Sneed. The money was 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 was not used as promised; the land was not developed as Sneed and Jones represented; and within six months, they 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.
Travis Sneed was sentenced in August 2011 to 63 months in prison for interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises and three counts of wire fraud. Sneed was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim.
United States Attorney Wendy Olson announced the sentence.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“With today’s sentence, the court sent a strong message that those who bilk trusting investors will be punished,” said Olson. “In today’s challenging economic conditions, this office and its law enforcement partners remain committed to vigorously prosecuting investment fraud.”