Disgraced ex-Mormon bishop Shawn Merriman hasn't got a prayer -- or his huge art collection -- anymore
SHAWN RICHARD MERRIMAN CHARGED WITH MAIL FRAUD
DENVER - Shawn Richard Merriman, age 46, of Aurora, Colorado, was charged today by Information with one count of mail fraud, and one count of asset forfeiture, United States Attorney David Gaouette and U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Shawn Tiller announced. Merriman appeared this afternoon before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe for his initial appearance, where he was advised of the charges pending against him. The defendant was then arraigned. Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe then found that Merriman was a flight risk, and ordered him detained without bond. Merriman was then taken into custody.
According to the Information, from about June 1, 1994, through February 24, 2009, Shawn Richard Merriman devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud investors by obtaining their money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. As part of the scheme, Merriman, operating under the names of Mountain Springs Partners, L.P., and the limited liability companies LLC-1, LLC-2, Marque LLC-3, LLC-4, and LLC-5, represented to investors that he would use their money to buy and sell securities and would return profits from such trading to them.
As part of the scheme, Merriman accepted millions of dollars from more than sixty investors but failed to use a lot of that money to buy and sell securities, instead converting most of that money to his own use and benefit. Merriman made misrepresentations to the investors, including misrepresentations that he had used their money to buy and sell securities and that his trading resulted in profits for the investors. He included those misrepresentations in fraudulent account statements that he mailed. The defendant also responded to investors' requests for the return of the money that they had invested or the money that they believed they had earned by transferring to those investors money that he had received from others.
The Information further states that upon conviction, Merriman shall forfeit to the United States interests in all property constituting and derived from any proceeds that he obtained directly and indirectly as a result of the crime. A money judgment shall then be entered against Merriman in the amount of the proceeds obtained by him from such offense less the amount of funds recovered from assets and property that have already been forfeited, criminally or civilly, and that were directly traceable to proceeds obtained from the criminal conduct.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office will do everything it can to ensure that Mr. Merriman's victims receive the largest money judgment possible, in addition to prosecuting him to the fullest extent that the law allows," said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.
"U.S. Postal Inspectors continue to work diligently in this investigation," said Denver U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Shawn Tiller. "Our primary focus has been to identify all investors who were harmed by Merriman's scheme, and preserve the assets he obtained through criminal proceeds. As always, our focus is to prevent further victimization and identify victim losses. The U.S. mails were used in furtherance of this scheme. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service continues to give top priority in its investigations to those who use the U.S. mails to perpetrate crimes against the American public. We are pleased with the efforts of the U.S. Attorney's Office in this investigation."
On April 8, 2009, U.S. Marshals and Postal Inspectors seized Merriman's assets as part of an ongoing investigation.
Items seized include:
* 157 pieces of Old Masters Fine Art, located at Merriman's residence in Aurora
* 170 pieces of contemporary art, also located at Merriman's residence
* 43 pieces of framed fine art, 4 bronze busts, and one acrylic sculpture, located at Merriman's residence
* Merriman's residence, located in Aurora, Colorado
* Other real property, located in Island Park, Idaho
* Numerous conveyances, including vehicles, collectible cars, motorcycles, a boat, a motor home, trailers, and a John Deer Bobcat
* 8 E*Trade securities accounts
* Sports memorabilia
* Other personal property, including exercise equipment, arcade games, tools, hunting paraphernalia, safes, and a pitching machine
The government is trying to determine the value of these assets, which include an art collection, including works by Rembrandt, and a classic car collection, including a 1930 Lincoln. The seized and forfeited assets will be used to compensate the victims of this crime.
If convicted of mail fraud, Merriman faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, as well as asset forfeiture and/or restitution.
The defendant has been charged by Information, which means he has waived his Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The U.S. Marshals Service has provided substantial assistance in the seizing, cataloging, and storing Merriman's assets.
Prosecutors handling the Merriman case include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Neff. The asset forfeiture is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Russell and Tonya Andrews.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also has a case filed against Merriman.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.