LAFAYETTE — The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday the unsealing of a 28-count federal indictment charging the former owners of a Lafayette investment firm in a conspiracy scheme that caused more than 100 of their clients to lose more than $8 million.
Richard J. Buswell, 43, and Herbert S. Fouke, 52, owners of Bowman Investment Group, are accused in an indictment alleging conspiracy, securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud.
The scheme occurred between 2007 and 2009, according to the indictment, which was handed up in August.
During that time, Fouke, who was previously a general contractor, recruited his business associates and friends to become clients of Bowman Investment Group, the indictment alleges.
Buswell would hire people to perform various duties at the company and would then induce them and their friends and family members to be clients of the company, according to the indictments.
During investor meetings, Buswell and Fouke allegedly made claims that included: That Buswell would not charge any commissions until accounts were profitable; that he had never lost money for a client; that he had generated up to $150,000 per month on his own personal investments; and that he had ownership interests in skyscrapers, shopping malls and other projects in New York City, according to the indictment.
Buswell and Fouke convinced clients to make high-risk investments to three companies, Advanced Blast Protection, Brookstone Securities and Visual Management Systems, according to the indictment.
Specifically, the defendants falsely guaranteed clients would get a 10 percent return on their investments to Advanced Blast Protection, the indictment says.
Buswell told clients that he personally had $4 million invested in the company, the indictment says.
Buswell told clients that their investment in Visual Management Systems would double within six months, the indictment says.
The indictment accuses Buswell of receiving about $1.7 million in commissions from Brookstone Securities, a broker dealer based in Florida, between March 2008 and continuing through March 2009.
The government is seeking forfeiture of those commissions, according to a news release.
Buswell is charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of securities fraud, one count of investment advisor fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and 15 counts of mail fraud, according to the indictment.
Fouke is charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of securities fraud and one count of investment advisor fraud, the indictment says.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The securities fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The investment advisor fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of five years and a fine of $10,000. Each count of wire fraud and mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine of $250,000.
“This conspiracy involved a complex scheme to defraud innocent investors,” U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley said in a news release. “Our prosecutor and investigator were able to cut through the mountains of paperwork to get to the heart of this case — greed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to hold accountable those who participate in fraud.”
The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Greg Harbourt and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly P. Uebinger.