New defendants charged in $50 million Ponzi scheme involving off-the-road tires | USAO-SDOH

New defendants charged in $50 million Ponzi scheme involving off-the-road tires | USAO-SDOH

COLUMBUS, Ohio– A federal grand jury has indicted two Texas males for their roles in one or far more alleged conspiracies involving wire fraud, income laundering and tax fraud.


Charges pending in opposition to John K. Eckerd, Jr., 58, of Dallas, and Afif Baltagi, 45, of Houston, ended up unsealed yesterday.


It is alleged that Eckerd is the leader of the multi-condition conspiracy.


Conspiring with earlier convicted and sentenced defendant Jason E. Adkins, 46, of Jackson, Ohio, Eckerd, Baltagi, and other folks orchestrated a $50 million Ponzi plan that defrauded extra than 50 traders.


According to the indictment, from 2012 till at minimum in or about late 2018, Eckerd represented himself to possible investors as an entrepreneur and businessman with skills in the market for off-the-street tires. Off-the-road tires are around-sized tires that are utilized on earth relocating gear and/or mining equipment. Eckerd experienced management of or access to quite a few organizations allegedly utilized as component of the scheme.


Baltagi labored in logistics for a freight company that had obtain to a storage garden in Houston where by off-the-street tires were being stored.


Co-conspirators allegedly solicited hundreds of thousands of bucks from trader-victims underneath fake pretenses. Traders have been instructed their income would be employed to purchase off-the-road tires at a steep low cost, and that the tires would then be re-offered to a purchaser at a a lot better fee. Investors were promised a 15 to 20 per cent charge of return on investment, generally inside 180 times.


Eckerd, Baltagi, Adkins, and many others corresponded with the potential investors face-to-experience, as well as by means of a mix of cellphone calls, text messages, and, on event, e-mail. It is alleged they made use of non-public planes to showcase their inventory and appear wealthy and effective. Defendants also allegedly supplied investors with elaborate, fraudulent paperwork about the purported specials. The co-conspirators requested substantial investments and financial loans, most to be funded via wire transfers.


It is alleged defendants almost never bought or bought tires, and when they did, they utilised the similar tires as the basis for many bargains, promising many buyers that they each and every owned the exact same tires. Baltagi allegedly applied his employer’s tire garden to deceive investors.


A further beforehand convicted defendant, Todd Wilkin, 60, of Hillsboro, Ohio, posed as a neutral 3rd-occasion vendor of off-the-street tires in specials arranged by Adkins. In actuality, Wilkin was functioning with Adkins as aspect of the Ponzi plan. Wilkin pleaded responsible in January 2022 to participating in the fraud scheme and awaits sentencing.


Eckerd, Adkins and others allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds from their Ponzi scheme by developing various company entities and affiliated lender accounts. It is alleged that Eckerd experienced regulate of several of the enterprise accounts but that he instructed some others to spot the accounts in other people’s names.


Eckerd also allegedly lied on his tax sorts and conspired with others to avoid paying taxes he owed, resulting in a tax decline of a lot more than $1 million for tax several years 2013 and 2014. Eckerd unsuccessful to file his taxes for tax decades 2016 and 2017. In July 2018, Eckerd submitted for personal bankruptcy on the same day he allegedly transferred $1 million concerning two lender accounts in his manage. Around the upcoming month, it is alleged Eckerd transferred one more $715,000 concerning accounts in his regulate.


Conspiracy to dedicate wire fraud is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 many years in prison. Conspiracy to dedicate revenue laundering carries a likely greatest penalty of 20 a long time in prison. Conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit tax fraud is a federal criminal offense punishable by up to 5 several years in jail.


Kenneth L. Parker, United States Legal professional for the Southern District of Ohio Bryant Jackson, Exclusive Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Provider (IRS) Legal Investigation and J. William Rivers, Exclusive Agent in Demand, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the situation. Assistant United States Attorneys S. Courter Shimeall, Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and David J. Twombly are symbolizing the United States in this situation.


An indictment simply has allegations, and defendants are presumed harmless until established guilty in a court docket of law.


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