Dallas–Three Texas men have been indicted by a federal grand jury on various charges stemming from their alleged involvement in a diamond investment fraud scheme run between March 2011 and November 2013.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, three defendants–Craig Allen Otteson, 64, Jay Bruce Heimburger, 58, and Christopher Arnold Jiongo, 55–surrendered to federal authorities on Sept. 9 and made their first court appearances that afternoon.
They were all released on bond.
The 10-count indictment charges each defendant with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Otteson and Heimburger also are each charged with six counts of mail fraud.
According to the indictment, Otteson acted as the managing member and chief compliance officer of Stonebridge Advisors LLC in Dallas, which was involved as the managing partner of Worldwide Diamond Ventures LP, a company that bought and resold diamonds on the international market but filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of Texas in October 2013.
The indictment alleges that initially the defendants attempted to raise funds for Worldwide Diamond by offering the sale of additional limited partnerships–with a minimum amount of $100,000–in the company, but were unable to raise sufficient capital funds this way.
Then, in March 2011, the defendants attempted to raise additional necessary funds by offering “Non-Recourse Promissory Notes” (diamond notes), hiring three outside companies to market and sell the diamond notes to investors in Texas, Pennsylvania and California. Each $50,000 diamond note had a nine-month maturity date and an 8 percent rate of return.
The defendants promised investors that all of their funds would only be used to purchase and resell diamonds but defrauded them by concealing that they used nearly $2.5 million of the capital to make unauthorized loans to third parties.
Between March 2011 and May 2013, a total of 77 investors sunk approximately $6.5 million into the company.
If convicted, Otteson, Heimburger and Jiongo face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also includes a “forfeiture allegation” requiring them, upon conviction, to forfeit the proceeds obtained as a result of the fraud.
The attorney’s office did not respond to a request for more information on what was next for Otteson, Heimburger and Jiongo.