I previously wrote about the numerous red flags that were raised by the investment pitch given by Roger Bliss in Bountiful, Utah. That post has generated a significant number of comments and interest, so I thought an update would be appropriate.
This was a fairly unusual case involving cooperation between multiple state and federal agencies. The interrelated state and federal cases were investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General’s Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Utah, Bliss was charged with obstruction of justice and false declaration before a Court of the United States in an indictment returned in August 2015. Federal prosecutors sought the indictment after Judge Robert Shelby referred the case to their office. Judge Shelby made the referral following an evidentiary hearing where prosecutors demonstrated that Bliss had violated his asset freeze order (not a good idea) and had made false declarations to the Court to conceal his conduct.
Bliss pleaded guilty to both counts of the federal indictment in September of 2015. As a part of his guilty plea, Bliss admitted that he understood that the Court had issued an ordering freezing all of his assets and that assets purchased with funds from any bank account in his name were subject to that order. He admitted that he transferred a sailboat to a third-party (to whom he owed money) so it could be sold to satisfy the debt. The sailboat was subject to the asset freeze and therefore could not be transferred. Bliss also admitted making a false statement while under oath.
Separate criminal fraud charges were brought against Bliss by the Utah Attorney General’s office. He pleaded guilty on December 11, 2015, to four counts of Securities Fraud and one count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity, all of which are Second Degree felonies, and in February of this year Bliss was sentenced to four years in state prison. The federal sentence will run consecutively with the sentence he received from the State of Utah.
Upon sentencing, Bliss was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence. The civil case filed by the SEC is still ongoing, but it is unclear whether the victims of Bliss’ scheme will ever get any of their money back. Don’t hold your breath.
Copyright 2016 by Mark W. Pugsley. All rights reserved.