When you practice law in the area of investment fraud you tend to get a lot of calls about some cases and individuals — especially once the payments stop coming in. I can honestly say that I have received more calls regarding Layton, Utah resident Dwight Shane Baldwin over the past six or seven years than any other individual. I previously wrote about Baldwin in a post titled “Silverleaf Fraud Filing” in March of 2010, when the initial civil charges were filed. He later entered into a Stipulation and Consent order in June of 2010 with the Utah Division of Securities. Well, these cases move slowly but I am pleased to report that three sets of criminal charges have now been filed against Baldwin.
As reported by Tom Harvey at the Salt Lake Tribune, last month prosecutors filed criminal charges for the third time in less than a month. The latest allegations are that he cheated investors out of more than $14 million. Baldwin faces fourteen second-degree felonies, including Securities Fraud, Communications Fraud, Theft, Unlawful Dealing with Property by a Fiduciary, and engaging in a Pattern of Unlawful Activity..
The Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by the Utah Attorney General’s Office alleges that Baldwin, as founder and manager of Silverleaf Financial, told investors that he would use their money to purchase distressed debt that was purportedly secured by real property. As usual, investors were promised abnormally large returns in exchange for their investment — always a red flag.
However, as is often the case, an investigation by the Utah Division of Securities and the Federal Bureau of Investigations revealed Baldwin engaged in numerous deceptions while trying to obtain investor funds, including misrepresenting expected investment returns. He is alleged to have told one investor he was investing $2 million in an asset purchase but never actually invested the money. In another transaction he told multiple investors he had a buyer ready to purchase an asset and none of the investors were repaid any of their initial investment. It is also alleged that Baldwin used $1 million of investor money on personal expenses.
In a news release, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stated that “people should verify the legitimacy of a deal or offering, before ever trusting anyone, even close friends and family, with money to invest.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Copyright © 2015 by Mark W. Pugsley.