Prosecutors seek prison time, fines for Idaho boat builder
Aug. 07, 2017
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of more than five years in prison, $3.2 million in restitution and a $3.7 million forfeiture judgment for a former Boise businessman.
Sentencing for Christopher Bohnenkamp, who pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud and bank fraud related to his companies, which built boats and trailers, is scheduled for Tuesday.
The plea agreement says Bohnenkamp knew his companies were broke but continued to take money from more than a dozen customers. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped 25 other fraud counts, the Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/2uh1Xfo ).
Bohnenkamp owned Treasure Valley Marine and Bohnenkamp's Whitewater Customs. The Statesman reports he took prepaid orders from many customers but never fulfilled their orders. He eventually moved to upstate New York to start a boat tours business.
Bohnenkamp's attorney, Charles Peterson, did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.
Peterson has filed a response to the sentencing recommendations, but it was sealed as of Friday.
The relatively harsh sentence — on the high end of what sentencing guidelines call for in this case — would "provide just punishment, promote the defendant's respect for law and provide adequate deterrence," prosecutors said.
In their sentencing memo to U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, prosecutors called Bohnenkamp's crime "egregious" and "a prolonged Ponzi scheme to fund his extravagant lifestyle."
Bohnenkamp's businesses were out of money by 2014 at the latest, but he still continued taking orders from at least 19 customers and running up charges for materials, prosecutors said.
They said they found a pattern in which Bohnenkamp took payments and spent the money. For example, two customers paid a total of $139,800 in late March 2014. Two weeks later, he spent more than $3,000 on airline tickets for himself, his wife, his daughter and five friends. They flew to Seattle, where he spent $4,500 on hotel rooms, $600 for a rental car, $6,400 at a casino, $1,700 at clothing stores and $400 at a restaurant.
He also assigned his employees to work on his $300,000 home addition instead of building boats, they said.
"By early 2015, like all Ponzi schemes, (Bohnenkamp's) businesses collapsed," prosecutors said.
His customers and suppliers lost $3.2 million, they said.
Bohnenkamp testified in May 2016 he was "broke" and "ruined." Two months later, he settled a lawsuit from the Idaho Attorney General's Office that promised to pay $372,368 in restitution to several boat customers. The attorney general's office suspended the payments after Bohnenkamp provided financial records and an affidavit that he could not pay. Bohnenkamp has not made any payments, prosecutors said.
Bohnenkamp's New York company has paid him $4,000 a month in salary, paid him $2,000 a month for his vehicles, paid his rent and covered "numerous" expenses, including airline tickets, concert tickets and fine dining, since April 2016, prosecutors said. Prosecutors also claim Bohnenkamp has deposited thousands of dollars into his personal bank account.