SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two Utah men who met in prison while serving time for unrelated fraud schemes have been charged in federal court over a fraudulent trading program one of them claimed to have received in a “spiritual revelation," the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City alleges Thomas J. Robbins, 65, of Heber City, and Daniel J. Merriman, 50, of Kaysville, and two other men cheated 80 investors of $11 million, the Deseret News reported Friday.
Each of the men agreed to a final judgment requiring them to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegally obtained funds with interest as well as fines without admitting or denying the allegations.
The complaint claims the two men solicited funds through false representations, telling investors that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a client and that investors could expect at least 20% in profits a month. The men apparently also told investors that Robbins had a “spiritual revelation” in 2008 about an exclusive algorithm for trading currencies, commodities, indices, stocks, bonds and other instruments.
Robbins and Merriman met while incarcerated and created the trading program after being released.
Robbins was sentenced to five years in prison in 2011 and ordered to pay $2.4 million in restitution after pleading guilty to conspiracy in an investment fraud scheme. Merriman was convicted in 2009 of three felony counts of securities fraud.
The complaint also claims the men worked with Clark J. Madsen, 47, and Mark W. Wiseman, 44, both of Sandy, to devise a scheme to fraudulently sell millions of shares of stock in a technology company founded by Madsen.
Madsen and Wiseman entered into an agreement with the men to raise funds and take the company public, despite knowing Robbins' and Merriman's criminal convictions, authorities said. All four men were charged with securities violations. Robbins and Merriman are also charged with violating broker-dealer registration provisions.