Man Sentenced in Investment Scam
Oct. 04, 2002
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SEATTLE (AP) _ A man who pleaded guilty in a $74 million investment scam that bilked thousands of government-wary investors was sentenced to four years in prison.
John Wesley Matthews, 56, convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, was also ordered Thursday to repay investors. About $25 million has been recovered to date.
The elaborate scheme preyed on investors' distrust of the government, promising returns as high as 120 percent, authorities said. A total of 2,500 people _ mainly libertarians and tax protesters _ lost nearly $74 million. Much of the money ended up in foreign banks, but millions were spent on luxury homes, race cars and other expensive automobiles, investigators said.
Matthews' prison sentence was reduced because he cooperated with the investigation of John Wayne Zidar, convicted last month as the leader of the scam, and other co-conspirators.
Zidar, 59, faces up to 275 years in prison and fines totaling nearly $14 million.