A former El Paso County deputy has been sentenced for his role in a ponzi scheme, defrauding investors out of more than $215,000.
In March of last year, David Hawkins, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in federal prison. Following that, he'll spend three years on supervised release. He's also been ordered to pay $204,348.91 in restitution to the three remaining victims who have not been paid yet.
According to the Department of Justice, Hawkins attended training courses on the foreign exchange (FOREX) market in 2006 as a deputy sheriff, and later self-educated himself in trading in the FOREX market. The DOJ says he got his first FOREX trading client in 2009; over the next two years he convinced colleagues at various El Paso County law enforcement agencies and their friends and family to give him upwards of $1.2 million to trade in the FOREX markets on their behalf.
The DOJ says Hawkins ultimately acquired 73 investors, who used personal savings or retirement funds as their investment funds. Altogether, these investors lost $215,643.
According to the DOJ, Hawkins siphoned the funds from FOREX trading accounts into his own bank accounts, and used the money for his own expenses or other unrelated investments. This included buying two cars, and putting money into two semi-pro football franchises--which never became operational.
“If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. People should diligently check out claims of unusually high rates of return before investing. Don't become a victim of an investment scam", said Stephen Boyd Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office, in a statement released by the DOJ.
“Ponzi schemes have taken the hard earned money of all too many Americans in the last few years,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “In this case, a Deputy Sheriff took money meant for investment, and spent it on a variety of things, including personal items, giving no thought to the financial damage he is causing the colleagues, family and friends who trusted him. He will now face the consequences of his crimes.”
The wire fraud charges carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The money laundering charge carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The FBI and IRS teamed up for the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Harmon.