DENVER — Two people were indicted by a federal grand jury in Colorado for allegedly running a cattle Ponzi scheme that raised around $650 million from investors around the United States.
Reva Joyce Stachniw, 69, of Galesburg, Ill., and Ron Throgmartin, 57, of Buford, Ga., were charged with running a Ponzi scheme, along with a third co-conspirator, Mark Ray, from late 2017 until early 2019. Last February, Ray was previously charged for his role in the Ponzi scheme in the Central District of Illinois.
Stachniw and Throgmartin made their first court appearance on May 11 in front of US Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter of the US District Court of the District of Colorado.
The indictment stated that the conspirators fraudulently represented to investors that they were backed by short-term investments in cattle. They also used false and fraudulent pretenses to solicit money from investors for their Colorado-based marijuana business, Universal Herbs LLC.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) explained that investors gave money to the accused based on false promises that investment money would be used for legitimate business activity related to cattle or marijuana but did not have the investment money linked to specific investment opportunities.
In the variations of the fraud scheme, investors were promised returns of approximately 10% to 20% over periods as short as several weeks.
“At no point did Stachniw, Throgmartin or Ray tell victim-investors that they were primarily using their money to repay other investors in a Ponzi-style investment scheme, or to enrich themselves,” the DOJ said. “Stachniw and Throgmartin allegedly received millions of dollars from the scheme, despite putting little to none of their own money into it.”
Both people are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to engage in money transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
If convicted, Stachniw and Throgmartin face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud, and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to engage in money transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.